Millions in California anti-pollution money went to, uh, pollution

Almost $70 million in California state bond money designated to fund industry pollution-reducing measures has gone to fund the expansion of polluting mega-dairies in the San Joaquin Valley, the nation’s most polluted air basin. In each case, the Pollution Control Financing Authority approved tax-exempt, low-interest loans on the basis of dairies’ pledges that expanding would help them divert waste from landfills. Well, funny story … Turns out dairies never dumped their waste in landfills in the first place. “That’s a staff error,” said State Treasurer Phil Angelides, who oversees the loan program. Meanwhile, dairies do divert cow poop into massive open-air lagoons where it emits millions of pounds of smog-forming gases a year, a process that none of the dairies were required to change. Angelides, who has made genuine improvements in the loan program since taking it over in 1999, was clearly embarrassed by the fiasco. “If we decide to finance dairies in the future, the pollution controls will be real,” he said.