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.
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
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)
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.
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