By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Time to make those who benefit most from valley air pollution pay for it
Placeholder Image

The Environmental Protection Agency is absolutely right.

The air quality in the San Joaquin Valley is the pits.

Uncle Sam should ding each and every one of us who “benefit” from bad air by driving cars $12 a year as our punishment.

In fact, anyone who benefits from the creation of smog in the San Joaquin Valley should pay a tax surcharge.

Those who snag packets of catsup at McDonalds – whether it is in Tennessee or Illinois – should fork over a 5 cent per packet surcharge to cover the cost of smog created to while growing tomatoes.

Wine connoisseurs everywhere – including New York City – who partake in the grape need to pay a dollar a bottle tax surcharge. Tractors working vineyards belch a bit of smog.

If folks in San Francisco got to have milk the odds are it comes from the San Joaquin Valley where there is a serious move afoot to fine dairy folks for their cows creating methane gas. A quarter a carton pollution tax or a nickel for any cup of coffee using a dairy product seems fair.

Out-of-state trucks that enter California on any freeway that ultimately will pass through the Central Valley should be slapped with a $100 pollution toll each trip. Unless, of course, they have spent $65,000-plus to buy California-mandated cleaner burning diesel engines and have the state’s more expensive and cleaner diesel fuel in their tanks.

And anyone outside of the San Joaquin Valley who buys any food product with even just one ingredient grown here should be subject to a 10 percent pollution surcharge when they shop at grocery stores or dine in restaurants.

There is a price to pay for inexpensive food and it shouldn’t be shouldered by one of the poorest regions in the nation according to Uncle Sam himself – the San Joaquin Valley.

As the nation’s most fertile and productive farm region it generates a lot of pollution – both natural and from manmade equipment – to raise crops. It creates more air pollution to truck it to market. It isn’t fair just to stick San Joaquin Valley residents with pollution fines since the bulk of the people benefiting from bountiful harvests here live elsewhere. Make them pay their share for helping create pollution by the act of eating.

Farmers and others shouldn’t be expected to collapse the price of pollution prevention and fines for exceeding air quality into their products raised in the San Joaquin Valley. There should be full disclosure so consumers know what it is costing to produce what they eat.

It seems draconian but it isn’t. If the EPA succeeds in putting valley farms out of business and swelling the regional unemployment rate to 50 percent, it will result in much higher food prices. That’s a given with the valley’s year-round growing climate and the sheer tonnage of food grown here.

The EPA should have no problem with such a tax. It is the same as the $29 million fine being imposed annually on the San Joaquin Valley. They are just fining us to help us.

Forget the fact that there have been significant strides in the past 20 years to improve air quality. By EPA standards, the valley has slashed emission by 50 percent since 1980 while the population nearly doubled.

We can do better. No doubt about it.

But to penalize the San Joaquin Valley for generating pollution by simply feeding America is rather perverted even by Washington, D.C., standards.