And then there’s this: FRESNO is Forbes’ Dirtiest City in America for 2012

Fresno, CA. Forbes Magazine's 2012

Fresno, CA. Forbes Magazine’s 2012 “Dirtiest City in America”

Just when you thought all my family and friends back in California’s San Joaquin Valley had it rough enough, there’s this:

Forbes Magazine has named the FRESNO-MADERA metropolitan area the dirtiest city in America.

The booby prize this year for Dirtiest City in America goes to Fresno, California. This Central Valley city suffers some of the worst air in the nation, and a water supply so degraded that the city used to tell pregnant women not to drink from the tap. Fresno epitomizes the environmental challenges of the Golden State.

A bright spot in the pollution landscape is that according to this EPA report, America’s air quality has generally been getting better. Cars and trucks are more efficient, fuel blends are cleaner, and coal-fired power plants have been forced to install air-scrubbing technology.

That’s right, of all US cities over 500,000 people, Fresno – the California conservative hotbed and home of my alma mater, CSU Fresno (Go Bulldogs!) – is the dirtiest city in America for 2012 in terms of air and water quality.

And before you start laughing, Bakersfield, take a look at the number 2 spot, because there you are, once again a runner-up to Fresno. (Although, in this case, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.) In fact, 4 of America’s top 10 dirtiest cities are in the San Joaquin Valley (Fresno, Bakersfield, Modesto, and Stockton), and 6 of 10 are in California (San Jose and Riverside).

Unfortunately (but predictably), this is one of the things that happens when you keep crying, “Get government out! No more government regulations!”: you get crap in your air and water, and in places only miles away from some of the most pristine natural beauty on earth (e.g., the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Yosemite National Park, Sequoia and Kings Canyon NP, etc.).

So keep up those anti-environmental protests, and “Drill Baby Drill”!

In the mean time, here are the 10 dirtiest cities in the nation.

Fresno and Bakersfield were dubiously named the #1 and #2 "Dirtiest cities in America" for 2012 by Forbes Magazine. In an overwhelmingly blue state, these are two politically conservative strongholds.

Fresno and Bakersfield were dubiously named the #1 and #2 “Dirtiest cities in America” for 2012 by Forbes Magazine. In an overwhelmingly blue state, Fresno and Bakersfield are two politically conservative strongholds.

1. Fresno, Calif.
The Fresno-Madera metro area takes the prize for dirtiest city in America. The 500,000 people in this area suffer from being exposed to groundwater polluted by agriculture as well as having the 5th worst year-round particle pollution in the nation, according to the American Lung Association. Sperling Air Quality Index: 1 Sperling Water Quality Index: 22

2. Bakersfield, Calif.
Bakersfield is the oil capital of California, home to some of the oldest and biggest fields in the nation. Emissions from oil and gas processing contributes to Central Valley air pollution that is the worst in the nation. According to the Lung Association, the population of 800,000 is subject to the worst particle pollution in the country and third-worst ozone. Sperling Air Quality Index: 1 Sperling Water Quality Index: 42

3. Philadelphia, Pa.

4. Bridgeport, Conn.

5. Modesto, Calif.
Modesto is another polluted city in California’s Central Valley. It’s 500,000 people have a 15.5% unemployment rate, rank 5th in short-term particle pollution and 11th in ozone. Sperling Air Quality Index: 6 Sperling Water Quality Index 34

6. Riverside, Calif.
(East of LA)

7. New Haven, Conn.

8. San Jose, Calif.
(Southern Bay Area)

9. Stockton, Calif.
Stockton summer heat exacerbates ozone levels that rank 23rd in the nation. Population is 650,000. The city has little means to fund environmental initiatives. It has sought to avert bankruptcy by laying off city employees, including a quarter of its police force. Sperling Air Quality Index: 15 Sperling Water Quality Index: 35

10. Milwaukee, Wi.

in honor of earth day 2010

Recycle Logomost of you know i’m an advocate for the environment. i recycle my coffee grounds, use my organic npr cotton tote bags when i go to trader joe’s, drive an original, pre-hatchback toyota prius (175,000+ miles), advocate for the voter-approved super train from la to the central valley, want desperately a metro train in los angeles, grow my own vegetables and herbs, and belong to several environmental organizations including the national geographic society, global green usa, ducks unlimited, sierra club, and santa monica mountain trails council inc. (yes, i believe i’m the only living member of du and the the sierra club.) so, i can safely say that i take the environment fairly seriously.

that said, i don’t like militants, obnoxious nutjobs, or people who yell for any reason. replanting trees is just as much an environmental exercise as is eating what you kill when you hunt. humans eating other animals is just as ‘natural’ as when other animals do it. and as for research and testing on animals, as long as it is done as humanely as possible, i’m all for it; that’s all part of being a natural animal on the top of the food chain, and it’s how we evolved to be where we are as a species. thus, as much as i am an advocate for the environment, i cannot stand environmental militants. to me, they are just as disdainful as religious or political militants.

therefore, in honor of earth day, i offer to you what is without exception the single greatest environmental protest fail video ever. enjoy!

the stupidest idea ever: the pay by the mile tax

ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner. the award for the stupidest idea ever goes to: transportation secretary ray lahood. in a recent newsday article, lahood said he was looking into the idea of taxing americans based upon the ‘miles that they traveled.’ the former illinois lawmaker said,

We should look at the vehicular miles program where people are actually clocked on the number of miles that they traveled.

really, that’s your brilliant idea? eliminate the gasoline tax???? how about raise the gas tax like we do the cigarette tax and alcohol tax until people stop using it. don’t get me wrong – i hate taxes, especially those that are simply attempts to take advantage of people and that are counterproductive to every rational line of thought. but we should tax the fire out of things we don’t want people to use because they are bad for our health. gas is no exception. we have the technology to make hybrid and electric cars, and we need to move towards getting people into them.

this idea is a slap in the face to the entire environmental and energy independence movement. all of us who have done our part to buy hybrid and electric cars would now have to pay the same as people driving gas guzzlers. why? the answer is simple: it’s actually starting to work! oil has fallen to its lowest level in years. foreign oil producing countries realize that this time, the u.s. is serious about switching to renewable energy. they are trying to sabotage the transition by offering oil on the cheap for a while during economic hard times in an effort to get us to continue using oil.

but congress also realizes that we are finally shifting towards cleaner, renewable energy – like we’re supposed to. but as we wean ourselves from oil (and oil companies), tax revenues will begin to fall (along with oil company profits), and congress want their money (as do oil companies), in part, so they can pay for the ginormous spending program they just passed (the proceeds of which will be paid to big businesses).

everything about this tax-by-the-mile transportation tax is wrong.

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