Misuse of air quality funds

As you’ve heard me mention on this blog many times, the San Joaquin Valley, home to Fresno, has the worst air quality in the nation. So it makes sense that funding would arrive from multiple sources to attempt to clean things up. Because transportation emissions are such a large portion of the air quality problem, it makes sense to target transportation infrastructure. (The other large source of pollution is agriculture, and that’s a touchy subject).

One such source of funding to help clear the air is called CMAQ

The CMAQ program was conceived to support surface transportation projects and other related efforts that contribute air quality improvements and provide congestion relief.

Under SAFETEA-LU, the program has provided just under $9 billion in authorizations to State DOTs and metropolitan planning organizations, and their project sponsors for a growing variety of transportation-environmental projects. As with its predecessor legislation, the SAFETEA-LU has provided CMAQ funding to areas that still face the challenge of attaining or maintaining the NAAQS (National Ambient Air Quality Standards).

The SAFETEA-LU expanded the focus of eligible CMAQ project types, placing more priority on diesel engine retrofits and cost-effective emission reduction and congestion mitigation projects that also provide air quality benefits.


There are many ways to spend air-mitigation funds. One way which I think makes sense is retiring old vehicles that spend all their time driving with more efficient or cleaner models. Things like diesel transit buses, ancient school buses or even garbage trucks. This type of vehicle will be on the road every day, so might as well make it as clean as possible, right? Even getting a garbage truck from 4mpg to 6mpg would be a great improvement. Buying hydrogen-fueled garbage trucks (and the necessary fueling infrastructure) would also do a good job at reducing emissions, but may not make financial sense.