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Feds Halt New Highways In Imperial County, Citing Air Pollution

Aired 8/10/12 on KPBS News.

The Federal Highway Administration said new highway projects must stop because the California county hasn't taken steps to improve air quality.


Imperial County, CA

— In a rare move, the federal government has put a stop to new highway projects in California's Imperial County as punishment for the county’s poor air quality.

Effective Aug. 9, the Federal Highway Administration is withholding federal funding for new highways in the county. The county will also not be allowed to move forward on projects still being designed.

Two years ago the Environmental Protection Agency told Imperial County it had 24 months to adopt new rules to improve air quality. Dust, pesticide use, the burning of agricultural fields and off-road vehicles make the air there among the most polluted in the nation.

But the county -- which is bordered by San Diego County on the west, the Arizona state line on the east and the U.S.-Mexico border on the south -- has not met the EPA’s demands to address that. That failure triggered funding sanctions, and this week, the Highway Administration said it could not allow highway projects to proceed.

The county had challenged the EPA's demands for new air quality rules in court, and late last month, the feds and the county reached a settlement to establish new rules. But it could be up to six months before the county is in compliance and highway funding can start flowing again.

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Avatar for user 'sirocco110'

sirocco110 | August 12, 2012 at 11:33 a.m. ― 4 years, 6 months ago

This is yet another example of pencil necked bureaucrats who have too much power and too little knowledge. Imperial County consists of nearly 5000 square miles of DESERT (ie. dirt). The central portion of the county is primariy irrigated farmland. When the wind blows the desert becomes airborne. When there are no crops in the fields and the wind blows, the dirt becomes airborne. To ensure successful crops growers use pesticides. Adrian Florido fails to mention that 18 miles south of the county seat is the third world city of Mexicali with an estimated population of between 1.5 and 2 million people. The vast majority of cars in that city are poorly maintained and burn some of the worst gas imaginable produce by PEMEX. Air pollution from Mexicali does not stop at the border.

I also take issue with the statement that the air here is some of "the most polluted in the nation". That is a sweeping generalization for which the author supplies no facts.
Having lived in Los Angeles for a number of years and the Imperial Valley for an even longer period, I much prefer the air here than there.

The fact that highways and their construction don't seem to be a contributing factor in the EPA's decision is proof that our Big Brother government is being run by non elected idiots over which the citizens of this country have little or no control.

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