Ozone threat down; Valley could still face $29 million in driver registration fees

Ozone threat ceases in San Joaquin Valley

Valley Air District officials say the ozone threat has subsided as of Wednesday, and ozone levels are not as bad as they've been in years past. But still, drivers in the valley could face a total of nearly 30 million dollars in registration fees if ozone levels get any worse over the next three weeks.
 
In any given hour's worth of time, the federal government will take an overall look at the valley's air quality. If the ozone reaches a level of 125-parts-per-billion by the end of September, drivers in the valley will be fined an additional 12 dollars for car registrations- totalling 29 million dollars for the entire valley.
 
"If you go back to the nineties, we would see upwards of 50, 55 exceedances a summer. And this year we've had zero," said Valley Air District's Jaime Holt.
 
Air district officials also say our Mediterranean climate, with high temps and low wind, combined with little rainfall, is a perfect climate for creating and trapping pollution.
 
"That is changing. As our industrial sources have cleaned up so significantly, what we're seeing is that pollution is really becoming more of an urban problem," added Holt.
 
Air District officials say you can improve ozone levels by cutting back on driving altogether, and try to avoid drive-thru windows when getting fast food.
 
"Lately I've noticed it getting a little more muggy, and I notice after I walk, it's getting a little hard to breathe," said Richard Batten of Bakersfield.
 
And runners would have to agree.
 
"Some days, when it's humid, I have to cut my run in half, because it's way harder to run," said Justine Ziemer, also of Bakersfield.
 
Air District Officials also say despite the smoke and soot from the Rim Fire longer 8-hour ozone standards have still not been exceeded. 
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