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Alan K., CA

Now 62, and as someone who has resided in Fresno, California for better than 37 years, I am one among an estimated 4 million San Joaquin Valley residents regularly exposed to deleterious and deplorable air pollution, a condition blamed partly on geographical, topographical and meteorological factors.

Common are asthma attacks, coughing, wheezing, throat clearing, expectorating (spitting) spells, conditions that affect/afflict many who call the Valley home. As undeniable, indisputable as pollution is (its proof incontrovertible, its effects often seen and felt), until there is this overarching resolve to mitigate its presence in the air, the negative impacts caused by poor air quality on human, animal and plant health will quite sadly, persist.

Admittedly, I am disappointed with regional air regulatory action that, in my view, is lacking in real effectiveness with respect to improving the quality of Valley air in any great measure. Yet, I am undeterred in the sense that I know it is not beyond human capability to significantly lessen our impact upon it and through extension to remove from the air its many toxins.

Truth be told, such must be something wanted as well as deemed needed if a constructive difference is to be made. Much more, we cannot expect government to shoulder the entire burden regarding the work required to "return," yes "return" Valley air to a state of healthy repair; much of the citizenry can and should become actively engaged and involved in the overall air-cleanup effort.

For the Valley and California, the good news is that high-speed rail will help answer the call. As the largest infrastructure project in California's history, this statewide effort promises to help lower air-pollutant emissions and will offer travelers a viable alternative to air and automobile travel. Electrified high-speed rail train transportation is a technology embraced the world over; one in this country that's been non-existent up till now - and it's proven!

That this endeavor is beginning in the Valley indeed gives me hope. Add to this the hope I have that I will one day be able to ride America's first true high-speed rail train and realize its benefit and value first-hand.

First Published: May 1, 2015

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