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Air quality cops: Cows both dead & alive are killing us in the SJ Valley

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POSTED March 10, 2009 4:47 a.m.
Burger King is killing you.

It used to be that you’d have to at least buy a charbroiled burger and consume it before you had to start worrying about your health. In the good old days all you had to fret about was trans fats and whether they cooked the meat enough to stay healthy.

Now the San Joaquin Valley Air Quality Control District is saying second-hand charbroiling can kill you.

The people who made dairy cattle public enemy No. 1 for cutting a bit too much cheese and creating methane gas are now going after steakhouses and fast food joints that charbroil meat. That dripping grease ends up sizzling and sparking a flame that spews smoke containing dangerous pollutants that escape into the atmosphere.

Throughout the San Joaquin Valley, the air quality folks estimate 2.6 tons of particles are released into the air each day from charbroiling. Altogether, 527 tons of pollutants that are considered lethal are released daily into the skies of the San Joaquin Valley.

The air quality people have a simple solution – technology. Of course, that means money. This new rule – which could cost between $2,000 and $100,000 a year per restaurant – is enough to choke a horse which, of course, you’d better not try to charbroil for fear of raising not the wrath of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals but from the air quality police.

Rest assured an annual investment of $100,000-plus won’t be the end of it. Remember Spreckels Sugar? Company executives said three things were killing them off in California: High labor costs, subsidized foreign sugar imports and ever tightening air pollution rules.

The Manteca factory spent well over $1 million on scrubbers that removed almost 99 percent of the particles from the smokestack only to be told several years later that wasn’t good enough. Spreckels saw the writing on the wall.

Who knows, maybe Burger King may call it quits too and leave the San Joaquin Valley restaurant business to the tofu food chains.

The pollution guys are saying that they plan to exempt businesses that cook small amounts of meat as well as backyard BBQs. Rest assured the two words missing are “for now.” It is just a matter of time before you will start seeing bumper stickers on pick-up trucks reading “Outlaw BBQs and only outlaws will BBQ.”

I’ve got nothing against cows but it almost seems like the solution is to kill off every last one of them. The experts say they’re killing us  by letting off too much methane gas, they’re polluting ground water as well with their bodily waste and now when they’re sizzled on the grill they’re killing us as well. Talk about bad karma.

Forget the fact that cows provide dairy products and meat products that are considered essential for a healthy diet. I know people will argue the meat bit. I haven’t consumed any form of meat for 23 years but I could care less if anyone else does.

I’ll defend anyone’s right to do so as I’m sure it is just a matter of time before someone goes after nuking veggie burgers as being unhealthy as well. After all, there are coal-powered plants somewhere that are powering my microwave.

Why not just cut to the chase and seize BBQs, ban cows, and outlaw people? That way the San Joaquin Valley can be well on its way to achieving air quality nirvana assuming, of course, Mother Nature doesn’t return to its old ways and start lightning fires when the Central Valley turns tinder dry in its natural habitat during late summer.

I get the need for air quality. What I don’t get is going after everything in carpet bombing fashion. If smokestacks, gas-powered vehicles, and open fires are the biggest sources why not concentrate all efforts on getting those down to a minimum? The goal shouldn’t be absolutely pure air, it should be healthy air. There is a big difference.
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