FRESNO, Calif – In a significant legal victory for clean air advocates, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California has ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to enact deadlines for the State of California to submit plans to regulate fine particle air pollution in the San Joaquin Valley. The court order responds to a lawsuit brought by National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), Medical Advocates for Healthy Air (MAHA), Committee for a Better Arvin (CBA), and Committee for a Better Shafter (CBS) over the EPA’s failure to enforce deadlines for San Joaquin Valley air quality plans impacting nearby Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon National Parks.
The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (SJVAPCD) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) are more than two years overdue in finalizing plans to address public health and air quality and visibility standards – some of which were set more than 20 years ago. For years, residents in the San Joaquin Valley and park visitors to Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon have experienced hazy skies and degraded views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, along with adverse health effects like asthma and chronic respiratory illnesses. This order creates a firm deadline for the State of California to finalize a plan within 18 months; if the state fails to act, it will face federal sanctions. The currently proposed plans by the SJVAPCD and CARB do not come close to adequately reducing pollution.
Statement by Mark Rose, Sierra Nevada Field Representative. National Parks Conservation Association.
“This order is a major victory for clean air in the San Joaquin Valley and surrounding national parks including Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon. Valley residents and visitors to Yosemite and Sequoia Kings Canyon National Parks are currently facing some of the worst air pollution in the nation, which rivals our most polluted cities. Community members and the more than five million annual park visitors who support our vibrant tourism economy deserve clean air.
“After two years without a plan, we cannot afford any additional delays or plans that will not effectively improve the quality of the air we breathe. The clock is now officially ticking for the Valley Air District and California Air Resources Board to finalize their proposals. We urge them to strengthen the plan to better protect the lungs and skies in our region.”
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About National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than 1.3 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.