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EPA REPROPOSES SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY AIR STATUS

Release Date: 10/20/2000
Contact Information: Randy Wittorp, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1589

     SEVERE AREA WILL EXCLUDE EASTERN KERN COUNTY
                               
     SAN FRANCISCO - The US Environmental Protection Agency today announced it will propose to split Eastern Kern County off from the San Joaquin Valley ozone nonattainment area, creating a new planning area.

    The EPA had proposed in June to reclassify or "bump up" the San Joaquin Valley, including Eastern Kern County, from a serious to severe ozone nonattainment rating.  The EPA received more than 400 comment letters during the 60-day public comment period that closed Aug. 27, 2000, many of which requested that the Agency split off Eastern Kern County from the San Joaquin Valley nonattainment area.

     "This is exactly how the process is supposed to work," said John Ungvarsky, EPA project manager.  "We reviewed and considered public comments on our initial proposal and acted on them.  We want to thank the commenters for the time and energy spent responding to the proposal."  

     Commenters provided compelling arguments for removing Eastern Kern County from the San Joaquin Valley nonattainment area.  Because of the mountains, remoteness, low population density, few emission sources, and distinct air quality, EPA believes that Eastern Kern County should qualify as a separate nonattainment area.

     The new proposal seeks to redraw the San Joaquin Valley planning area boundaries to include everything south of Sacramento County to the Tehachapi Mountains.  A new Eastern Kern County planning area would include those areas south and east of the Tehachapis.  The Eastern Kern County split-off area would still be under a serious air quality rating, and will need to continue controlling air pollution.

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