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U.S. EPA reclassifies Valley air to extreme

Release Date: 4/9/2004
Contact Information: Lisa Fasano, (415) 947-4307

    SAN FRANCISCO   Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency took final action to downgrade the San Joaquin Valley air basin from "severe" to "extreme" non-attainment under the federal one-hour ozone standard.  Today's action will become final 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.
    Upon becoming effective, the action stops the federal air pollution sanction that had been in place in the Valley since mid-March.  The federal highway funding freeze that would have become effective in September is also suspended.

       "This action recognizes that stronger tools and more time are necessary to achieve national clean air standards in areas with the worst air quality challenges," said Deborah Jordan, the director of the EPA's air division in the Pacific Southwest Region.  "Downgrading the Valley's air to extreme will not delay air quality improvements."

    The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District must submit a plan to the EPA by November 15, 2004 showing how the Valley will attain federal air quality standards by 2010.  The District must also submit updated rules within a year that incorporate the more stringent air quality requirements, including reducing the permitting level for stationary air pollution sources from 25 to 10 tons per year.
    The California Air Resources Board recently requested that EPA downgrade the Valley's air quality classification from severe to extreme because the Valley could not attain the standard by 2005 as required by law.

     Ground-level ozone air quality in the San Joaquin Valley has generally improved over the past several decades, but not as quickly as required by federal law.  The Valley exceeded the national ozone standard 37 times in 2003.

     A copy of the final action and schedule will soon be available in the Air Programs section of the EPA Region 9 website,
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