The U-S Environmental Protection Agency has announced its plan for placing the San Joaquin Valley into its worst category for air pollution.
The California Air Resources Board recently asked to downgrade the Valley´s air quality classification from severe to extreme because the Valley could not attain the standard by 2005 as required by law. The extreme classification requires tighter limits on air pollution sources.
The new category will allow the Valley´s smog cleanup date to be postponed from 2005 to 2010. Officials say violating the first deadline would have cost local businesses 36 million dollars in fees, and two billion dollars in federal road-building funds.
Last year the San Joaquin Valley was considered the most polluted place in the country for ozone and smog, after Los Angeles.