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A controversial power plant project near Avenal appears to be dead, and the news is being hailed by environmental groups as an outright victory. A letter sent last week to the California Energy Commission by an attorney for Avenal Power Center LLC, based in Houston, states that the company will let the license for the project expire in September.

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For years, the Democratic assemblyman had griped about the Central Valley getting shortchanged by Sacramento and overshadowed by Los Angeles, San Francisco and other big-city magnets for state dollars. Now he was in a poor Fresno neighborhood, not far from where he grew up, standing in front of a constituent's home with newly installed rooftop solar panels — paid for by a program he had publicly assailed.

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Every one of the 48 national parks with the greatest Clean Air Act protections are plagued by significant air pollution. Air quality in parks can be as bad – or worse – than in some major cities due to emissions from outdated coal plants and other sources of pollution. While progress has been made in reducing air pollution in national parks, pollution still damages air quality in all parks, most often during the busy summer season.

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The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (air district), and the local Air Board that controls it, has a problem. The No. 1 air quality issue in the San Joaquin Valley is the level of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) experienced by residents each winter. It devastates the health of thousands of Valley residents, and the past two winters have been the worst on record for this type of pollution. The federal deadlines for demonstrating compliance with Clean Air Act health standards for PM2.5 have passed. The cleanup plans approved by the Air Board several years ago have failed dramatically.

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AVENAL -- A proposed 600-megawatt natural gas power plant near Avenal in limbo for more than half a decade appears to have imploded. An attorney representing Avenal Power Center LLC wrote in a letter last week that the center "will let the license for the project expire on Sept. 16, 2015."

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