Imperial County air cleanup plan needs work, EPA says

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Federal regulators say California’s plan to clean the air in Imperial County doesn't go far enough. KPCC’s Molly Peterson reports.

Fine particulate matter – smog – is more abundant in Imperial County than federal laws allow. Dirty air increases health risks. Children in the county are three times more likely to be hospitalized for asthma compared with kids in the rest of the state.

On Thursday, the California Air Resources Board meets in San Diego to consider rules for limiting fine particulate matter in Imperial County’s air. Those rules were supposed to be in place last year. This week the federal Environmental Protection Agency has sent a letter to the state air resources board, saying some of those rules as proposed aren't strong enough to do the job.

The EPA has offered the Imperial County Air Pollution Control District and state officials some recommendations. Among them are tighter controls for agricultural equipment and other off-road vehicles common in the region.

But those controls aren't in the present plan. Activists in Imperial County say they'll offer public comment supporting tougher federal rules at the hearing this week.