Progress Toward Clean Air
Roseville, CA- As was reported in Rocklin & Roseville Today (Roseville Region Air Quality Among Worst in Nation, Staff Report / Wednesday, April 20, 2016) Placer County did once again receive an "F" grade from the American Lung Association's 2016 State of the Air Report for ozone and short-term particle pollution.
The Placer County Air Pollution Control District (District) acknowledges that while the health based clean air standards, set by the federal government, have not yet been met, the "F" grade fails to recognize that air quality in our County, and in fact the region as a whole, is significantly improved from even just a few years ago, putting us on a path toward achieving healthy air quality in the very near future.
From the Sacramento Valley, into the northern portion of Lake Tahoe, Placer County's geography and climate brings many challenges: remote and rural communities with mountainous terrain, metropolitan areas, major vehicular arteries, a transcontinental railroad route, along with more frequent catastrophic wildfires resulting in significant air pollution; not to mention the pollution that drifts north and east from the more urban areas such as Sacramento, Stockton and the Bay Area.
With the County's considerable growth since the 1990's, it is often ranked near the top of statewide growth trends. This has required creative strategies to ensure that the region can continue to grow in prosperity and provide a good quality of life, along with the increase in air pollution which comes from an expanding population.
Recently, the health based federal air quality standard was tightened again, requiring ever increasing efforts to reduce pollution. This change was done to strengthen the ozone pollution standard, to better improve public health protection, particularly for at-risk groups including children, older adults, and people of all ages who have lung ailments such as asthma, along with people who are active outdoors.
Extensive strides have been made in reducing air pollution and improving air quality in Placer County. The number of smoggy summer days that exceed standards has declined from 95 days in 1990 to 17 days in 2014; a strong downward trend that is expected to continue over the next several years. The District forecasts that the County and region may meet federal ozone standards years ahead of mandated deadlines through the continued efforts at reducing air pollution locally.
The region is working collectively to be redesignated as attainment for the federal daily particulate matter standard, which should result in an "A" grade for particulate matter in next year's American Lung Association's State of the Air Report. However, so long as the region remains vulnerable to episodic poor air quality from major wildfires, we will have to remain vigilant to ensure we continue to take every opportunity to improve our air quality.
In support of this, the District has implemented several very successful and innovative programs within the county to reduce air pollutants that impact our health, environment, and local economy, beyond what is required by law. These include:
- A focused effort to reduce emissions from Union Pacific's Roseville Rail Yard.
- On-going support for activities that will utilize forest woody biomass wastes to fuel electricity generation and reduce wildfire size and severity.
- An annual Clean Air Grant Incentive Program that since 2001 has locally invested over $15 million dollars in projects throughout the County to reduce an estimated 1,118 tons of smog forming and particulate emissions.
- Requiring the use of the most stringent emission control equipment on major stationary sources, which means less pollution.
Regardless of Placer County's poor ranking, the efforts made by us and our sister agencies throughout the region not shared in the report, have resulted in real and tangible improvements in air quality. Despite continued increases in population and vehicle miles traveled within the County, we are confident that we will overcome these challenges and the future of air quality will be bright.
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