EPA targets California over poor air quality

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The Trump administration is ratcheting up its on-going war with California, this time targeting the air. In a warning Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency says the Golden State risks forfeiture of federal highway funds if it does not clean up what the agency says is the dirtiest air in the nation.

In the latest battle over the state, the Trump administration is now targeting the air it says tarnishes the Golden State. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said, “California has failed to carry out its most basic responsibilities under the Clean Air Act, and as a result, millions of Californians live in areas that do not meet our nation's air quality standards.”

“Let’s face it, this is all about the administration hates California. And it’s just the latest salvo,” said Dr. Alison Bridger, in response to the EPA announcement.

Bridger is a San Jose State University meteorologist. She said the most populous state has a penchant for putting out pollutants from cars and factories. Added to that, abundant sunshine, which heats the pollutants creating unhealthy air.

“In the 70s, you could, you know, you feel like you could reach out and grab Los Angeles air, it was so dirty-looking. And it is better than it was,” she said.

Higher emission standards are credited with a rebound for state’s air quality. But over the past decade, more people, more vehicles have chipped away at that success. And now the EPA threatens to remove federal transportation dollars unless there’s a fix.

“This really makes no sense from a public health or policy perspective,” said Kristine Roselius of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

BAAQMD officials say they’ll support the state’s legal fight against Washington’s attempt to ending California emission standards.

“This move really adds insult to injury. And it’s hard to fathom any logical motivation to do this,” said Roselius.

Officials say locally, they’ll continue aggressive air standards, as the nation’s chief executive continues curious behavior aimed at the nation’s largest state.

“I wonder if the EPA is threatening funds for Georgia, because their air quality is poor right now?,” said Dr. Bridger, pointing at a map showing the Atlanta metro area is currently listed as having unhealthy air.