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$29m fine for bad Valley air days is hogwash
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Think back to Aug. 24-25, if you can.

On those days, temperatures in the Valley spiked above 100 degrees. The following weekend, you may recall, the Valley chilled in a huge drop in the temperature.

You may remember the heat of those days even more now that the federal government plans on sticking you and me for a ridiculous $29 million penalty on account of it.

The triple-digit heat, combined with car pollution and industrial emissions, caused ozone levels to exceed federal standards, triggering a fine for exceeding federal air quality standards.

When the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finds their ozone levels being "violated," they can stick a fine to businesses and industries in the Central Valley. Never mind the fact that us Valley folks don't really have a lot of control over how hot our Valley gets (isn't that considered an "act of God"?). To me it would be just as ridiculous to issue a penalty to a region for a wind storm that kicks up particulate matter and causes pollution to go up. Seems like I remember that occurring in Kern County back in the 1990s.

San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District officials have the option of applying the penalty to the other part of the Valley "responsible" for junking up our air: you and I who drive cars. Of course. How convenient. They just may implement a $10 increase in our vehicle registration fees, since they say that our cars and trucks are responsible for so much of the pollution.

Leave it to government to abandon common sense and be so quick to stick it to us.

Typically a fine is designed to get you from doing something harmful or injurious to others, like when we speed or drive recklessly and are issued a traffic citation. The fine is designed to modify your behavior, i.e., slow down or drive more carefully. I can't for the life of me think what we are supposed to modifying on hot air days. Jamie Holt, a spokeswoman for the valley air pollution control district, acknowledged that "we have seen business in the Valley spend millions of dollars to put the best control technology in place; they could not have purchased better equipment. We want to make sure they're not further penalized, when in essence, there's nothing more they could have done."

So what is the point of a penalty? Extorting more money for government programs, that's what.

How could we modify our behavior? Next time it gets bloody hot again, to avoid a spike in excessive ozone, are we to just shut down the entire Valley? Nobody leaves their house? Nobody drives their kids to school? Shut down all those infernal factories that produce goods and jobs? Shut down every last mini-mart? No more having it your way at Burger King because we just shut down the Whoppers sizzling on the grill? No mowing grass with gas powered mowers? No air conditioning? Stop all UPS deliveries? Sure, why not put all all into a deep freeze so the Valley's ozone level won't rise during the duration of a heat spell. So the government gets its cleaner air for a few days but it loses in payroll taxes, sales taxes, income taxes and whatever other hidden taxes we pay for living. And because of the lost wages, more people go onto the public dole, greater demand for food stamps and less money to pay the mortgage, which means our already excessive foreclosure rate goes even higher.

Valley folks be damned. We have a government that is no friend of any resident here.

I have a better idea: Start attacking Bay Area pollution sources. Their bad air is swept right into our Valley. Give the Valley a break as it literally feeds the United States and world. Penalizing the Valley is the worst and stupidest thing the government can do. Most of us realize we are not going to die from breathing in bad air for a few days but the real problem is government policy that destroys our way of life. We have people who cannot find work. We have sections of South Modesto - Shackelford to be exact - with an unemployment rate approaching 48 percent, and what does this government care about? Taxing them because their day-to-day activities means our ozone numbers had a temporary spike. Applying logic to an illogical government, why doesn't the Valley get a tax credit for every other day of the week that we meet air quality standards for ozone because of all the people who are stuck at home and not driving because they have no job?

I have news for the government. The Earth is bigger than they are! Any pollution man has created, God's green Earth can clean up. Beyond what is reasonable, it's not up to the government to clean the air. God already has it handled. Case in point: Scientists are now told that the millions of crude oil that spilled out of BP wells into the Gulf of Mexico is now being taken care of. The ocean and its elements are eating up the oil and the ocean is scrubbing itself. A giant oil plume in the Gulf, once 22 miles long, over 36 miles deep, and expected to last for months, had become undetectable. It had been eaten by bacteria. No surprise to those of us who marvel at what a grand earth we have because a grand Creator made it.

Imagine how air pollution is scrubbed as effectively.

EPA, get a life and get out of ours!

How do you feel? Let Jeff by e-mailing him at