FRESNO — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency told the state Thursday that a plan is due in 18 months to clean up the San Joaquin Valley’s chronically polluted air.
The action was expected after regional air quality officials failed to meet federal Clean Air Act standards by the end of last year to reduce dust, soot and other tiny particles from the air.
The region could lose $2 billion in highway funds if the EPA doesn’t approve a plan in the next two years.
For nine years, the EPA and regional air officials have failed to put such a plan into action. The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District has missed deadlines and the EPA has failed to act on plans. In a court settlement reached with health and environmental groups, the EPA agreed last month to finally take action on the district’s 1 d 997 plan to reduce unhealthy air particles, which lodge deep in the lungs and cause serious respiratory ailments.