Environment & Science

LA, Riverside lead California in smog days

Traffic and smog on the 210 freeway.
Traffic and smog on the 210 freeway.
David McNew/Getty Images

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An environmental group counted up bad air days in California for the past two years for a new report on smog standards. You probably already know what they found.

Riverside and San Bernardino residents, you're right if you guessed you came in at number one. According to Environment California, a third of the time Inland Empire air exceeded current federal standards for ground level ozone.

Los Angeles did its part, too, racking up 69 smoggy days last year for the third worst air in the state. The central valley's Visalia-Tulare area came in second and Bakersfield tied with Los Angeles.

The environmental advocacy group released the data after efforts to strengthen federal rules for ground level ozone stalled out. President Barack Obama directed his Environmental Protection Agency chief Lisa Jackson to postpone a long-planned rulemaking that would have tightened national smog standards to match or exceed those in place in California. If the standard had gone through, it would have added up to a month of bad air days to L.A.'s calendar.

Environmentalists say present standards hide the severity of the problem. EPA's own studies found that tighter rules could save 12,000 lives a year. But EPA also estimated businesses would pay up to $90 million to make the air cleaner.