Regulatory failure allows Big Ag to burn parched vineyards

For the editor: As usual, any meaningful move to address the Central Valley’s longstanding air quality issues is hostage to major economic interests. (“Air Quality Deteriorates as Drought Forces California Growers to Burn Abandoned Crops,” June 11)

Legislation to phase out agricultural burning is continually circumvented by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (APCD), which has repeatedly requested compliance deferrals since the enactment of US Bill 705. Senate in 2003. Given that the APCD’s board of directors is made up almost entirely of Central Valley politicians, many of whom have vested interests in big farming, it’s no wonder the quality goals of the l are not achieved.

Grape growers complain that mechanically reducing and recycling their crop waste is uneconomical and then emits more carbon dioxide and particulate pollution into the already clogged Central Valley by burning crops that could have been diverted into mulch and in soil conditioning materials. Meanwhile, the people who work for them and live in the valley are sickened

Add the health costs associated with these creeping conflagrations when you count the price to pay for continuing to do nothing.

Stuart Sheldon, Murrieta


For the editor: Jeff Bitter of Allied Grape Growers says people have burned down vineyards “because it’s simply the most practical way to deal with agricultural waste – the most economical way”.

What about the economic impact of the health costs of your pollution?

Stop burning and raise your prices to pay for better practices. If your product is not selling, then we will have chosen to eliminate it. If so, we will all be better off in every way, including economically.

Stop shifting your costs onto everyone else. Each activity must pay for its impacts.

Paul Malykont, Los Osos

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