For more than two decades the San Joaquin Valley has been trying to meet the federal clean-air standard for smog. It has finally achieved that goal with "zero" violations this year.
The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District had 281 violations for exceeding the ozone standard in 1996. This year it finally brought that number down to zero.
Stanislaus County Supervisor Bill O'Brien sits on the district governing board and says valley drivers have been paying a penalty for being unable to attain the ozone standard.
"We're being fined $29 million every year until we obtain it, so now we've obtained it." ~ Bill O'Brien, Stanislaus County Supervisor
The district board is asking the Environmental Protection Agency to eliminate that fine.
Bonnie Homes-Gen of the American Lung Association celebrates the good news but says higher standards nationwide still rank many valley cities among the worst in the nation for smog.
"The valley is still a long way from meeting that standard so there is still about 2 months of unhealthy air every year." ~ Bonni Homes-Gen, American Lung Association
The Air District helped to lower valley smog with $500 million in grants to replace autos, trucks, and even locomotives with cleaner running vehicles.