350 San Joaquin Valley facilities face tighter restrictions

By WES SANDER

Capital Press

In an attempt to improve some of the country's worst air, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved a tougher emissions standard for the San Joaquin Valley.

The rule sets the limit for emitting ozone-producing materials at 10 tons annually. The current threshold is 25 tons. The change will require 350 additional facilities to comply with permitting controls and emission-offset requirements, the agency said.

Instituting the new rule partially involved getting the state to rescind its long-standing exemptions for agriculture under emission-control rules, said Kerry Drake, associate director of EPA's air division for the region.

The EPA rates the ozone-producing emissions of only two regions in the country, Los Angeles and the San Joaquin Valley, as "extreme," Drake said.

"Air quality in the San Joaquin Valley is consistently among the worst in the nation," said Deborah Jordan, director of the Air Division for the EPA's Pacific Southwest region, in a statement. "New and modified facilities will now be subject to the most stringent requirements, which will contribute to the health of our communities."

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