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District targets polluting farm tractors & wildfires
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Another 187 older high polluting farm tractors in the San Joaquin Valley will be replaced using a $2.4 million federal grant.
It is part of three initiatives designed to improve air quality addressed by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District governing board during their November meeting.
 The others are:
upursuing measures to curtail wildfires.
uadditional funding for installing new clean burning heating devices.
The district’s Agricultural Tractor Replacement Program has already used $80 million to replace more than 2,200 valley-based agricultural tractors with cleaner running, low-emission tractors. The Environmental Protection Agency funding the district receives is roughly half of all available funding nationally for tractor replacement.
Another $2.4 million in EPA funds will assist in funding an estimated 2,484 wood burning devices in the valley that are used to heat homes with cleaner burning models. The district has spent more than $9 million through the Burn Cleaner program for the installation of more than 8,100 cleaner burning devices.
The district is also trying to find ways to deal with wildfire pollution made significantly worse by California’s ongoing drought that has created a build-up of combustible materials, killed a number of trees and beetle bark infestation to surge. The result is an all-time high for fire danger.
The district, in a news release, noted “air pollution generated from wildfires is enormous and well exceeds total industrial and mobile source emissions in San Joaquin Valley overwhelming all control measures resulting in periods of excessively high particulate matter and ozone concentrations.”
The district board, in order to reduce wildfire air pollution, voted to pursue the following strategies:
uPropose changes to districts rules, policies, and procedures to allow more effective use of prescribed burning as a means to reduce the number and severity of future wildfires.
uWork with local, state, and federal land managers and fire suppression agencies in an ongoing effort to identify gaps in land management and fire suppression policies and practices and develop solutions.
uSupport Senate Bill 235 (Wildfire Disaster Funding Act of 2015) and similar federal and state legislation to enhance and preserve funding for land and forest management.
uSupport and pursue legislative or administrative initiatives to allow for mechanical removal of forest fuel buildup in high hazard zones.
uDevelop a targeted public education campaign to increase public awareness of the enormous damage to public health due to wildfires and build public support for increased prescribed burning that may help reduce the number and severity of future wildfires.