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U.S. EPA Gives Limited Approval and Disapproval to Valley Dust Rules
Release Date: 1/23/2003
Contact Information: Lisa Fasano, (415) 947-4307
Action Triggers New Highway Sanction Deadline
SAN FRANCISCO - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today approval of the
San Joaquin Valley's particulate matter rules, known as Regulation VIII, limiting dust pollution from
certain roads, vacant lots, construction sites and other sources.
The EPA's action also directs the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District
(SJVUAPCD) to demonstrate that Regulation VIII provides the best available pollution controls, as
required under the federal Clean Air Act for areas with serious air pollution problems. To make this
demonstration, SJVUAPCD may need to modify Regulation VIII to impose additional requirements on
agriculture, mining, construction and other activities that generate significant dust.
"We commend district staff for developing Regulation VIII, and we recognize more needs to be
done," said Wayne Nastri, the EPA's regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest. "State and local
air pollution agencies as well as industry and environmental stakeholders need to continue their efforts to
reduce the Valley's serious air quality problems."
EPA proposed this action on April 1, 2002, and received negative comments from several
environmental groups. Among these comments were claims that Regulation VIII did not require
sufficient dust reduction from agricultural activity. EPA has replied to these concerns and is finalizing
its action as proposed.
In March 2000, the EPA partly approved an earlier version of Regulation VIII, but also directed
SJVUAPCD to make several revisions. After conducting nine public workshops and incorporating
extensive public comments, the district substantially strengthened the regulation in December 2001. For
example, the regulation now requires large construction sites to apply water or take other steps to reduce
significantly dust plumes.
National health standards for pollutants that threaten public health and the environment are
established by the EPA as mandated by the Clean Air Act. When an area violates a health-based
standard, the Clean Air Act requires the area to be designated as a nonattainment area for that pollutant.
The San Joaquin Valley, from Stockton to Lancaster, was designated a serious nonattainment area for
particulate matter pollution in 1993. Dust from roads, construction activity and other "fugitive sources" is
a significant contributor to the particulate matter problem in the Valley.
Particulate matter affects the respiratory system and can cause damage to lung tissue and premature
death. The elderly, children, and people with chronic lung disease, influenza, or asthma are especially
sensitive to high levels of particulate matter.
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