By Jamie Stewart
The Shafter Press 

Panel working on plan to improve air quality

 


With the passage of AB 617, a steering committee was formed to submit a Community Emissions Plan by October. Shafter was selected as one of two communities in the San Joaquin Valley to be the pilot programs in the effort to reduce emissions in the air in the valley.

The committee has been meeting once a month for the past six months, with the meeting being increased to two times a month beginning in July.

A committee made up of 20 Shafter residents was formed, with a mix of business owners, farmers, and city government representatives, as well as individuals who are working to create a plan to address the need for cleaner air in our community.

An update was given at the last meeting on July 18, with presentations given by a representative of the California Air Resources Board, and the Department of Pesticide Regulation. Scott Wahl, of CARB, said, “We have worked on different strategies that have taken in the suggestions made by the committee, as well as the proposed requirements that will be in place to reduce emissions in the community.”


Helping you to move to a better place

The committee has until October to complete an action plan that can be submitted to the San Joaquin Valley Air District Board for review. This plan will then be implemented and the community of Shafter will be required to abide by its rules.

In addition to the presentations, there was a document submitted by a subcommittee of the Steering Committee addressing the need to monitor certain areas in and around Shafter.

Among these are Golden Oak Elementary School. There are two stop signs along Lerdo Highway, with a playground immediately adjacent. The separation is only a sidewalk and a chain link fence, with many trucks passing through the area daily. There is also a stop sign there at which trucks idle, increasing the amount of emissions there.

Other sites include as the La Colonia, which is surrounded by agriculture operations, as well as the JP Oil crude oil processing facility two-thirds of a mile away. Dairy monitoring along Wildwood between Riverside and Burbank also was on the list. It asks for monitoring of quantities of ammonia, NOx, ethanol, methane and N2O. It is noted that the area is nine miles outside of Shafter, but it less than six miles from Maple School, which is attended by many Shafter residents.

It was mentioned that there are at least 2,000 light passenger vehicles 15 years or older registered in the city of Shafter. It was recommended that a program in which those vehicles could be turned in for an electric vehicle at no cost for qualifying low-income residents.


Why go miles for your smile?

The report recommends that 250 low-income homes in Shafter be equipped with solar energy. The homes receiving this solar would have an electric heat pump installed for heating and cooling, electric hot water heater and an electric induction stove.

A federal tax credit and the DAC-SASH program would pay nearly 100% of the cost, it says. This funding should be made available with either current sources or AB617 funds.

During the meeting it was announced that Shafter has an additional monitoring station in the city now, at Grimmway Academy. The original monitoring station is at Shafter High School, and the new station was installed at the charter school off of Los Angeles Avenue. It was stated that the levels recorded at the new station have been relatively normal, the exception being the afternoon and evening of the fourth of July, in which levels spiked, which is not unusual in city and, in fact, the region.

The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, July 22, at the Shafter Veterans Hall. On the agenda is discussion of enforcement of air pollution control regulations, which will be presented by Valley Air District enforcement staff. There will also be a session of developing CERP strategies for implementation in Shafter. This will include proposed changes in existing regulations and the addition of new procedures intended to reduce emissions in and around the Shafter area. The discussion will include agricultural operations, vehicle emissions, commercial emission risks and how to keep our schools protected from harmful emissions.

More information on the committee’s activities and the development of the Community Emissions Reduction Plan is available at community.valleyair.org/selected-communities/shafter

 

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