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Release Date: 5/10/2001
Contact Information: Lisa Fasano, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1587

     SAN FRANCISCO - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today is proposing to exclude eastern Kern County from the San Joaquin Valley ozone nonattainment area and re- proposing to downgrade the entire San Joaquin Valley ozone nonattainment area from "serious" to "severe."  

     The proposed boundary line follows the Tehachapi Mountain Range and reflects the natural division of the San Joaquin Valley and South East Desert air basins.  The air quality in the two regions is distinguishable.  While the San Joaquin Valley as a whole was one of the five smoggiest areas in the country over the last few years, eastern Kern County has not exceeded the federal ozone standard since 1998.
     "EPA received more than 400 comment letters requesting that we exclude eastern Kern from the San Joaquin Valley ozone downgrade," said Jack Broadbent, EPA's Air Division Director for the Pacific Southwest.  "We believe today's re-proposal is fair, technically sound, and protective of public health."

     This reproposal will limit the air quality downgrade to the newly defined San Joaquin Valley nonattainment area and will keep East Kern County classified as "serious."

     If today's proposal is finalized, the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District would be required to submit a new attainment plan by May 31, 2002 that demonstrates attainment by 2005.  The attainment deadline for East Kern County would be extended from November 15, 1999 to November 15, 2001.
     The EPA is seeking public comment on the proposal.  The public comment period will run for 30 days following publication in the Federal Register.

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