SHAFTER, Calif. — The California Air Resources Board proposed the Community Emissions Reduction Program for the City of Shafter, in response to Assembly Bill 617, which was signed into law by former Governor Brown in 2017.
Shafter, along with South Central Fresno are the first communities in the Valley chosen to be a part of the program after the board approved of the program in a meeting on Thursday, February 13th. The goal of the program is to reduce emissions and toxic air contaminants in disadvantaged communities.
The program is in its beginning stages, but residents of Shafter are hopeful for the partnership between the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District and the Shafter Community Steering Committee.
Tom Frantz, is a long-time resident of Shafter as well as a farmer. He said the law is a good start to cleaner air.
"When we have electric tractors available, I'll be the first to get one. Zero emissions and that's what we want. There's good about farming too," Frantz said. Plants and trees absorb pollution, they help to clean the air, they put oxygen in the air, they absorb CO2 and put carbon in the soil and we have to develop all of our resources to help reduce greenhouse gases and improve on air quality."
Frantz harvests almonds on his farm, and even within his role as a farmer he said there's a benefit in the program.
"When we harvest almonds, we don't have to put all that dust in the air - the technology is evolving, there's a lot of stuff out there that can decrease those dust emissions," Frantz said.
The program involves incentive programs to encourage local industries and residents to take part in reducing emissions. A part of the incentives will include a notification system to inform residents of emissions of the air pollutants and toxic air contaminants.
"By adding some of the incentive money for notification which in the whole state of California - nobody knows what's actually being applied - for residents to know what's around the community, what's around their schools or the senior citizens that actually don't have kids, what is being applied," Byanka Santoyo, with the Center for Race, Poverty and the Environment said.
A recommendation by residents to monitor pesticides in local agricultural was also amended into the program. The program was approved for 29 million dollars to put the plan into action.
Anabel Marquez, a resident of Shafter who we spoke to through a translator said the momentum is growing as state officials make the effort to partner with residents and local industries.
"We are hopeful to achieve many accomplishments, but we need to keep going. because right now we might not see it - but hopefully we'll hopefully see it as they apply these amendments they've put on paper," Marquez said.
We reached out to the California Air Resources Board for comment, but state offices were closed for the federal holiday.
The Shafter Community Steering Committee meets the second Monday of each month, and the next meeting will be held on March 9th to discuss the community emissions reduction program requirements, the program's components, and emission reduction concepts.