Glass factories pollute more than cars

There are seven large glass factories in the San Joaquin Valley. From fiberglass to wine bottles, these factories use tremendous amounts of energy and spew thousands of tons of air pollution into the lungs of valley residents every year. Some of them burn dirty fuels resulting in excessive SOx emissions.

The amount of NOx and SOx from these seven is what would be emitted from 4,600,000 cars, SUV’s and half-ton pickup trucks in a year if each were driven 12,000 miles. That is more vehicles than are privately registered in the San Joaquin Valley.

Here are the names, locations, products and combined NOx and SOx of the magnificent seven:

  1. Pilkington North America, Inc.; Lathrop, San Joaquin County; manufactures auto and window glass; 736 tons per year.
  2. Guardian Industries Corporation; Kingsburg, Fresno County; manufactures window glass; 521 tons per year.
  3. Gallo Glass Company; Modesto, Stanislaus County; manufactures wine bottles; 469 tons per year.
  4. Owens Brockway Glass Container; Tracy, San Joaquin County; manufactures glass containers from beer bottles to drinking cups; 439 tons per year.
  5. PPG Industries; Fresno, Fresno County; manufactures fiberglass; 389 tons per year.
  6. Saint-Gobain Containers, Inc.; Madera, Madera County; manufactures a wide variety of products from windows to plastics and owns Certainteed listed below; 386 tons per year.
  7. Certainteed Corporation; Chowchilla, Madera County; manufactures roofing, siding, and fibreglass; 176 tons per year.

note: the assumption for cars and light trucks is that they meet the ten year old California Low Emission Vehicle Standard (LEV II) for NOx emissions which is .05 gram per mile. Much tighter standards (LEV III) will be implemented beginning in 2015.

Air District will refuse to recognize new ozone standard

Hot off the press:

According to the San Joaquin Valley Chief of Air Quality Disinformation, Saiyit Sarkasstic, the new ozone standard will be ignored in the valley.

“We have strategically manipulated our monitoring system to try and meet the old standards. In Arvin and Central Fresno we have things under control. We can maybe do a little more with the Clovis monitor by moving it a half mile to the west.These maneuvers gave us a chance of meeting the inappropriate standards set in the previous century. But, there is nothing to be done that will get us close to these new standards except pretend they don’t exist.

We will simply tell EPA to mind their own business and we will take care of our own people. The residents of the Central Valley understand that in order to maintain their high standard of living they have to sacrifice a few years at the end of their lives. Who cares when they are no longer productive workers anyway”, said Mr Sarkasstic in a press release.

report by Paol Lushon

Worst Air in the World?

We hear in the news about horrible air quality in the developing world.  Stories about Chinese air quality are everywhere.

Here in the Central Valley it is conceded that we have the worst air in the nation but surely it is far better than  places like China.  So, let’s make the comparison.

Who had the worst air over the holiday season, Beijing, China or the Central Valley of California?

The chart below gives the 24 hour PM 2.5 values from the US Embassy monitor in China and the same values for monitors in the southern half of the San Joaquin Valley between Fresno and Bakersfield.china v central valley

The time period is three weeks surrounding the holiday season in the US from December 16, 2013 to January 5, 2014.

Using the 100 micrograms per cubic meter mark to separate really bad air from absolutely killer air, there were seven days when you would not want to go outside without a good mask over your face in China.  The Central Valley only had 2 such days when virtually no one should be outside.

Out of the 21 days, the Central Valley had no days below the World Health Organization recommended safe level for 24 hours of 25 micrograms per cubic meter.  China had 3 such days.

In total over the 21 days, the Central Valley had worse air on 13 of them.  In other words, there was worse air in the Central Valley than in China about 2/3 of the time over this past holiday season.

If we average the 21 days, the air in China was about 15% worse than in the Central Valley.

If we eliminate the extremes, or the best 4 days and the worst 4 days in each place, then the Central Valley had the worst average by about 4%.

Conclusion:  Both places had horrible air and the Central Valley is clearly in the category of the “developing world” in terms of air pollution.

Coal Trucks in the Fog a Problem for HECA

Letter to the Editor, Bakersfield California, November 17, 2013

Tupman vs. the fertilizer giant

I live one-and-a-quarter mile from the site of the proposed fertilizer plant known as Hydrogen Energy California, or HECA. I’m 71, I’ve lived here 36 years, and I’m scared. We can’t fight big energy companies and really wealthy people. But this plant should not be built here; not just because of its proximity to the little town of Tupman, but because of the vulnerability of all the surrounding areas. It is a disaster waiting to happen — a disaster that could be very deadly.

The roads in the surrounding areas are going to be blood alleys. Think about the parade of big trucks HECA will require, then think about the fog. Well, I don’t give up without a fight. I don’t have anywhere else to go.

Sarah Goatcher, Tupman

Pollution from HECA a Serious Issue

Letter to the Editor

Bakersfield California, November 19, 2013

HECA may reverse air progress

So there is hope that the Central Valley might be released from its $29 million fine for one-hour ozone violations. That is great news to this former Buttonwillow resident, especially if it means we will also have fewer unhealthy air days.

But wait. If we get off the hook for paying that fine, how soon will they impose a new fine on us from the hundreds of tons of new emissions from the Hydrogen Energy California (HECA) project? Certainly HECA’s thousands of diesel trucks delivering coal daily into our valley air will put us right back into noncompliance.

Wouldn’t it be grand if we truly had clean enough air to burn a nice Christmas fire in our homes? Seems like if we could go in the right, clean-air direction for awhile, we should try to stay the course. It seems like we should not celebrate the $29 million fine’s possible cancellation by permitting a major new air polluter. I bet HECA will put us right back into a fine.

Buttonwillow will be having a HECA meeting in the local recreation center Nov. 20. The California Energy Commission’s voting commissioners will be hearing public comments beginning at 5 p.m. The CEC needs to be truthful and transparent to the public about risks involved. There is insufficient information to prove the risks are less than significant.

Susanna Matchniff, Hacienda Heights

Buttonwillow Resident Opposed to HECA

Letters to the Editor

Bakersfield Californian, November 17, 2013

More questions about HECA

I am pleased the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is questioning health risk studies done by the California Energy Commission on the Hydrogen Energy California project.

The EPA found that the CEC’s health-risk assessment on HECA had insufficient information. The EPA noted that the CEC concludes the HECA project would not result in significant risk of cancer or short- or long-term health effects to the public. Yet the CEC does not show how it justifies its conclusion.

CEC states Kern County ranks as one of the lowest California counties in overall health. The mortality rates for asthmatics and those suffering from coronary heart disease in Kern are higher than the state overall. It identifies Valley Fever as an existing public health concern that appears to be on the rise in Kern. The CEC states that their analysis uses a conservative health-protective methodology that accounts for impacts to the most sensitive individuals, including a developing fetus, newborns, infants and the elderly. Yet it is not clear through their methodology how the preexisting health conditions were considered or how this information affected their conclusions, if at all.

I support the EPA’s questioning. The CEC needs to clarify how the health-risk assessment considered the pre-existing health conditions. We, in the dirtiest air in the nation, deserve robust studies that show the health risks of hundreds of tons of new emissions from this dirty coal-fueled plant. The CEC needs to do better.

Marie Parsons, Buttonwillow

Farming Community Opposed to HECA

Letter to the Editor

Bakersfield Californian November 12, 2013

HECA claims were deceptive

I live within two miles of the proposed Hydrogen Energy California project, and I see huge risks from this 300-truck-perday coal plant in the middle of farm land. What a shame that Les Clark misled readers with inaccurate information (“HECA will mean jobs, power and product for Kern County,” Nov. 6).

Clark was repeating some of HECA’s statements that have since been challenged by the California Energy Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency. HECA will not power 160,000 homes with its 300 MW of power. The CEC says the plant will need all of that power itself to make chemicals. In fact, HECA will need all of the power it generates plus an additional 60 MW from the grid. When not making chemicals, HECA at most will put only 50 MW into the grid. It is deceptive to claim a win-win for power when we get so little. The CEC told HECA to find an alternate way to cool its plant instead of pumping 5,000 gallons per minute for 25 years from our overdrafted water basin. The EPA agrees and stated that HECA would use more water than any other power plant in California. The EPA stated the CEC should deny HECA a permit unless air cooling is considered.

Clark said it’s time to move on because there have been countless workshops. Countless, but the workshops have revealed even more serious problems. The CEC’s voting commissioners will hear public comments at Buttonwillow’s recreation center at 5 p.m. on Nov. 20. Hear the countless issues for yourselves.

Sasha Kosareff Buttonwillow


Letters to the Editor

Bakersfield Caifornian, November 11, 2013

HECA project isn’t worth risk

It is not necessary to sacrifice local lungs to gain the jobs Hydrogen Energy California promises, as implied in theCommunity Voices article by Les Clark (“HECA will mean jobs, power and product for Kern County,” Nov. 6).

The $408 million federal tax given to HECA could have been used to hire and train underemployed workers to paint existing, local roofs high albedo (heat reflecting) white and insulate older homes. That should save more electricity than HECA hopes to produce.

HECA would import trainloads of coal to worsen our air pollution. The coal becomes carbon dioxide which will be injected into Occidental’s wells to force out oil that will be burned into carbon dioxide.

When estimating how many “permanent” jobs, not construction jobs, HECA would provide, we must subtract any farm management or labor jobs lost due to use of land by HECA. How many local workers have the skills HECA needs? What would happen to HECA if Occidental decided they could no longer profitably extract oil from the local field at whatever price that oil brought?

If HECA chooses to make potentially explosive fertilizer, they can only provide 30 MW of electricity for the community.

HECA will consume 7,500 acre feet of water per year; all of that water is used by the local pistachio trees. This is not “brackish water.” Climate disruption due to global warming will bring longer and more severe droughts. We can’t make energy with the water farmers and residents need.

Arthur Unger