Imperial Valley officials agree to clearer rules for dust mitigation

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Imperial County officials have agreed to develop stricter air quality rules after a long battle over how to control dust. KPCC’s Molly Peterson reports.

Dust kicks up under recreational ATVs and on unpaved roads. Imperial County also still allows agricultural burning. Environmental activist Jose Luis Olmedo says those are among reasons why kids there get hospitalized for asthma at a higher rate than surrounding areas. "The fact that we’re separated from larger communities like San Diego and Los Angeles, it really puts us at a disadvantage," Olmedo says. "Because a lot of times we don’t know what’s going on in other counties and our families are sick. Our families have asthma but a lot of times we don’t make those correlations."

Last week, Imperial County supervisors wrote to the state Air Resources Board to agree to clearer and stronger pollution rules than those on the books now. Attorney Gideon Kracov says that ended years of delay. "These measures, when adopted, could set precedent on the issue of fugitive dust and public health for all areas of the rural southwest," Kracov says.

Imperial County says it will hold hearings on the rules by year’s end.