Why it matters?

After a year fraught with public resignations and mounting pressure for more oversight, the air district faces an uphill battle to comply with state and federal emissions standards.

Documented by Josef Sibala

The Valley Air District board selected Supervisor Vito Chiesa as chair and Councilmember Deborah Lewis as vice chair for 2023.

What happened: At its Dec. 15 meeting, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District Governing Board adopted the 2022 plan for the 2015 eight-hour ozone standard, which includes a commitment to continue evaluating the next generation of technologies to achieve additional reductions.

Valley Air Policy Coordinator Cynthia Pinto-Cabrera stated that the 2022 ozone plan “falls short” in prioritizing environmental justice communities.

While Christopher McGlothlin from the California Cotton Growers Association, Manuel Cunha from the Nisei Farmers League, and Mayor of Taft Dave Noerr, asked the District to remove pesticides from the strategy. Executive Director Sheikh clarified that the California Air Resources Board (CARB) approved the pesticide regulations in State Implementation Plans in September 2023.

And also: The board also accepted $6.1 million in Carl Moyer funding for zero-emission commercial landscaping equipment. Through the program, emission reductions are achieved by replacing old equipment with new lower-emission technology. 

In 2019, the district first launched its incentive program to replace commercial landscape equipment with zero-emission equipment, with over 550 pieces of equipment replaced to date. With this additional funding of $6.1 million out of $24.7 available statewide, proposed program enhancements include increases to incentive amounts and additional options for commercial-grade lawnmowers and other landscape equipment. 

Proposed incentive levels are based on Carl Moyer Program guidelines, which will be finalized in 2023. 

What’s next: The board selected Stanislaus County Supervisor Vito Chiesa as chair and Los Banos City Councilmember Deborah Lewis as vice chair for 2023. The next Valley Air Board meeting is scheduled for Jan. 19, 2023.

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The Fresno Documenters are a group of local residents who are trained and paid to attend and take notes at local public meetings where officials decide how to spend public money and make important decisions...