California Bills Would Crack Down on Air Pollution from Farms

For the first time, California farmers would have to do their part to curb air pollution, under a series of controversial bills approved last week by the state legislature. The state’s agriculture industry has long enjoyed an exemption from the federal Clean Air Act, even though many of its activities generate substantial amounts of pollution; in fact, California’s Central Valley, the heart of the state’s farm country, has some of the nation’s dirtiest air. The package of bills would eliminate that exemption, phase out the burning of agricultural waste, require reductions in manure emissions, and impose other controls. The bills now go to the desk of California Gov. Gray Davis (D), who has not yet indicated whether he plans to sign them into law.