SoCal environmental agency crowdsources ideas to improve air quality

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The agency that keeps watch over our air quality wants some new ideas for cutting smog in the Coachella Valley, and it's prepared to crowdsource for them.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District is holding workshops for possible air pollution reduction programs.

The workshops are geared toward community groups and environmental entrepreneurs with solid ideas for improving existing programs or kickstarting new ones.

Ideas can run the gamut from retrofitting diesel engines to improving highways.

The agency says it will rate the proposals based on how well they conform to air quality goals — and whether they can create jobs.

The projects will be bankrolled by $53 million in mitigation fees from the Sentinel Energy power plant near Palm Springs.

At least 30 percent of that money must be spent on projects in so-called “environmental justice areas." That includes places like the community of Mecca, where some people have blamed illnesses on emissions from an open-air waste recycling plant.

Proposals must be submitted by June 8.

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