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$5M Grant Takes Aim at Air Pollution Problems in Imperial Valley

IMPERIAL VALLEY — More than $5 million is set to head to the Imperial Valley to fight air pollution.

The Imperial County Board of Supervisors, acting in its role of Air Pollution Control District board, voted 5-0 on July 14 to accept a grant and approve amending the 2020-2021 fiscal year proposed budget.

The $5,313,300 comes from Assembly Bill 617 Community Air Protection Incentive program. It will be used to improve air-quality conditions in disadvantaged communities by funding emission-reducing projects that can decrease contaminants in the air. Examples include replacing older, diesel-powered school buses with electric buses, introducing new air-filtration-systems at schools and paving dirt or gravel roadways.

“We are excited to get these well-deserved projects funded and under way,” Air Pollution Control District Project Manager Thomas Brinkerhoff said, adding the grant will “improve the quality of life for everyone there.”

The 2017 AB617 developed a new community-focused program to reduce exposure to air pollution and preserve public health, according to the local website dedicated to the program, www.icab617community.org. The idea is to take measures to protect communities disproportionately impacted by air pollution.

The local area that is targeted is the Calexico, Heber and El Centro corridor, Brinkerhoff said. The July 14 vote was a step the local air pollution control district has to formally go through to receive the grant funding. 

“In the air district’s continuing efforts to administer and implement AB617, the community air protection program, the California Air Resources Board is providing money from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund to support incentive projects to reduce emissions and protect public health,” Brinkerhoff said.

In other news July 14, the county board also voted 5-0 to increase matching 2020 scholarships for the Agricultural Benefit Program Scholarship, as well as sending letters to Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris urging them to ensure there is financial support for counties and make sure a “COVID-19 Heroes Fund” is part of the next COVID-19 relief package. “The letters are only to Sen. Harris and Feinstein because actually Congressman (Juan) Vargas he did support the HEROES Act,” said county Intergovernmental Relations Director Rebecca Terrazas-Baxter. “He will support similar legislation as well if it goes back to the House after introduction in the Senate.”


This story is featured in the Jul 16, 2020 e-Edition.