California Gets a New Plan for Clean(er) Air

Southern California should get cleaner air under new regulations approved yesterday by the state Air Resources Board — although not as clean as required by federal law. The region’s air quality has been improving steadily since the 1970s, but recent years have seen a resurgence in ozone, the main component of smog. The new regulations lay the groundwork for cutting smog-forming emissions by 120 tons per day by 2008 and seek authority and funding from the state legislature to reduce emissions by an additional 66 tons per day. The plan also outlines new standards and controls for consumer items, heavy-duty diesel trucks, old cars, and off-road engines. Environmentalists called the heavily contested plan a step in the right direction — but only a step. The current regulations mark the last time the air board can revise its strategy to meet a 2010 federal deadline by which ozone must be reduced to approved levels. Failure to reach that deadline could result in billions of dollars of lost highway funds and other economic sanctions.