Money on the way to help fund clean air projects across San Joaquin Valley


The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District is getting $88 million to fund clean air projects thanks to the California Air Resources Board.

"It will be funding probably used to change out mobile things primarily, so things like heavy-duty diesel trucks, tractors, school buses, larger sources of diesel particulate matter," said Jamie Holt, the Valley Air District's communications officer.

Over the past several years, Kern County has received more than $220 million toward pollution-reduction projects.

"Our grant program has invested almost $117 million," said Holt. "Our partners, so the business and the residents that come forward, they always have to have matching funds. We don't just give out grant money without the member of the public or business person being willing to put some skin in the game, so to speak, and those individuals and businesses have invested $105 million."

Holt said this money is important in the valley, where air pollution is a big problem, and the money goes a long way in helping to reduce that pollution.

"They have reduced nearly 20,000 tons of NOx emissions in Kern County. They have played a significant role in seeing the improvement of air quality that we have seen over the last 20 years," said Holt.

Local schools have even taken part in helping to reduce emissions through these grant programs. For instance, the Wasco Union School District purchased five zero-emission electric cars with the help of the Valley Air District.

"These are $30,000 cars, and we were able to get them for $20,000. Then, we located another state grant that provided $10,000 for a car, so these cars for the school district are essentially free," said Wasco Superintendent Kelly Richers.

Staffers use these clean-air cars to travel to their five schools in the district.

"We are a lot of stop and go in this town, so by being able to use these smaller zero-emissions cars, we know we are not contributing to the problem," said Richers.

The Wasco Union School District has an application in for another five zero-emission cars and hopes to have those by the spring.

If you would like to submit an application for the grant money, call the Valley Air District at (559) 230-5800.

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