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After decades of failing to enforce state laws meant to protect California's groundwater from oil industry discharges, regulators have announced a new plan to oversee oil and gas wastewater disposal into open pits, also known as sumps. The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (the Regional Board) announced Thursday that it will begin to more actively oversee this disposal method. Clean Water Action said the plan does not go far enough and called for a statewide prohibition on oil sumps.

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Ozone is the most widespread of air pollutants. It contributes to what we often see in the air as smog or haze. It is also linked to asthma attacks, bronchitis, heart disease—and thousands of deaths each year.

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There are many health-based air quality standards the Valley has yet to meet. Today, the air district will reveal the plan to meet one of those standards, the 1997 PM 2.5 (particulate matter) standard. Each winter, we breathe in dangerous levels of PM 2.5 that bypass our defenses and enter our bloodstream, permanently impacting our organs and nervous system.

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During 2014, there were 150 days in the San Joaquin Valley when monitors recorded air pollution levels that were either “unhealthy for sensitive groups” or worse. These are the Orange days on the air quality chart. The public should understand the extent of these sensitive groups in order to protect themselves or family members from the health effects of the Valley’s worst-in- the-nation air pollution. Some may think these sensitive groups are just a small fraction of the population and that it does not harm too many people unless pollution levels are in the Red zone. The facts show a more serious problem.

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California’s Central Valley grapples with some of the dirtiest air in the nation. The culprits range from its vast agriculture industry to trucks on Highway 99. But one local air district is tagging a source far away: Asia. “The world in so many ways is getting smaller in respect to what we always thought was our own backyard issue: ozone,” says David Lighthall, the health science advisor for the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.

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