Plan to clear valley air has EPA's OK

The federal Environmental Protection Agency said Friday it has approved a state plan and rules to meet an ozone health standard in the San Joaquin Valley starting in 2010.

The rules are for meeting the federal one-hour standard for ozone, or smog, in the eight-county San Joaquin Valley air basin. In a lawsuit filed last year, activists charged the EPA was slow in taking action on measures for meeting the one-hour standard and an eight-hour ozone standard in the valley.

"The rules and commitments in the plan are now enforceable by EPA and the public," said Deborah Jordan, director of the air division for the EPA's Pacific Southwest region. "Today's action lays the groundwork for attainment of the more protective eight-hour ozone standard."

The EPA took action on more than 20 measures to improve air quality, such as smog checks, consumer products and rules for livestock operations.

According to the EPA, it is requiring California and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District to strengthen five of the rules, including a fee for major polluters if the area does not meet the one-hour ozone standard next year and a rule for reducing emissions from dairies.

The valley has to meet the one-hour ozone standard in 2010, 2011 and 2012 to satisfy the EPA.

Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at or 578-2321.