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Our Opinion: Clearing the air

February 23, 2001

As more and more effort goes toward uniting with Mexicali to promote economic development, we are pleased to see another united effort taking shape — one that will promote air quality on both sides of the border.

Air quality is an issue not to be taken lightly and it appears it is being given serious consideration on both sides of the border.

This week officials from Imperial County and Mexicali met to discuss air pollution and how it affects the quality of what we breathe on both sides of the border. While there may be no quick solution to air quality problems, it is good to see officials realize people in both countries need to work together to bring solutions.

We have concerns about air quality in our county. Drive toward the border on many days and you can see a blanket of pollution sitting over Calexico and Mexicali. We have no doubt much of that pollution comes from across the border, but we create a fair share ourselves. No matter who is producing the pollution, it is our problem. But it is a difficult issue to address alone and that is why a united effort is such an important step.

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It is alarming to see the numbers produced by county public health officials regarding the growing problem of asthma in Imperial County, particularly among children. Asthma, according to county health officials, is worse here than in other counties in the state. County health officials stop short of saying air quality is to blame. We can urge the county to continue to study the issue to find out why asthma is so high here and what can be done to lessen it.

We hope to see meetings continue between officials from both sides of the border aimed at improving our local air quality. And more than meetings, we would like to see action to clear the air. Through a united effort, the problems can be addressed that much faster. Officials in Mexicali and Imperial County will know what steps the other is taking to maintain air quality and that knowledge will help drive their individual efforts.

Air pollution is clearly a critical issue. County officials work hard to try to maintain our air quality, but it is too large an issue for any one agency to handle alone.

In a place like the Imperial Valley, where we are separated from the rest of the state, we need to join efforts with our neighbors and act as a region, because that is exactly what we are.

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