Josh Griner

Fires Have Made California Cities Top World’s List of Most Polluted Places

San Francisco, Stockton and Sacramento were recorded as the world’s three “most polluted cities” on Friday due to the wildfires raging in northern California, CNN reported on Sunday.

Data from organizations that monitor air quality worldwide showed that the massive blazes had caused those parts of California to have worse air than the areas that usually top the most problematic international smog spots in India and China.

The problem has become so bad that schools and public transportation shut down in many of the areas.

“It appears to be the worst air quality ever experienced in San Francisco,” said University of Washington Prof. Dan Jaffe, who described the situation as “an air quality emergency.”

Experts said the smoke could destroy decades of progress on pollution, with Harvard University Prof. Daniel Jacob telling CNN that “We have made tremendous efforts and investment to clean up our air with considerable benefits for public health. But now it’s like we’re getting stabbed in the back with those wildfires.”

Jacob said that particulate matter (PM) is the “number one environmental killer in the world,” emphasizing that “the levels that are present in those areas affected by wildfires are like you might expect on a very polluted day in China or India.”

Jacob said “We give people advice to say indoors and to reduce exercise and things like that, but those don’t mitigate the problem too much,” especially in places like San Francisco where many people don’t have air conditioning.

He explained that without any sort of “controlled system” to filter air, a building doesn’t give much protection against PM.

However, when air is properly filtered, people can “reduce their PM exposure by about 90 percent” by being inside, he said.

Koch Groups: Congress Should Let Expired Tax Breaks Die

Officials with two groups backed by the Koch brothers are asking Congress not to renew tax breaks that have expired, saying they do not give fair advantages to companies and businesses.

The breaks “provide special interest tax breaks and unfairly pick winners and losers by propping up select industries and companies over others,” the groups, Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce said Monday in a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., reports The Hill.

The provisions, or “extenders” expired at the end of 2017, and include breaks for several industries, including in motorsports, horse racing, and renewable energy.

Last week, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady said he has developed a package concerning which breaks he thinks Congress should renew, but he was not sure if members will want to address them while in a lame-duck session.

The Koch groups compared the tax breaks to the outcry about incentives given by New York and Virginia to attract Amazon, saying in their letter that “billions more that are up for renewal in the tax extender package are no different.”

Last week, Koch Industries also released a statement to lawmakers urging them to not renew the tax extenders.

However a group of businesses and groups, led by the coalition Alliance to Save Energy sent a letter to lawmakers last week asking them to update or renew the tax breaks for energy efficiency, saying they “stimulate economic activity by encouraging efficiency projects and upgrades in homes and buildings across the country while ensuring reduced energy consumption in the built environment for decades to come,” The Hill notes.

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