Placer forest fuels reduction, air pollution efforts earn national EPA award

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Efforts in Placer County to reduce wildfire risks by turning forest fuels into an energy source have caught the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s eye. The Placer County Air Pollution Control District has been named one of 12 Clean Air Excellence Award honorees. The award recognized the air district’s efforts in partnership with Placer County, the U.S. Forest Service and Sierra Pacific Industries. The public-private partnership has significantly lowered harmful air emissions while reducing the potential of wildfire damage, a district news release announcing the win states. Placer County Supervisor Jim Holmes, an air district board member, was in Washington to accept the award Tuesday. “What we’re demonstrating is that it’s possible to improve forest health, clean the air and produce more energy from renewable sources, while at the same time making management of forests more economically sustainable,” Holmes said. The district’s project was singled out by the EPA for demonstrating a commitment to creating new green infrastructure and jobs. “EPA’s history is marked by innovations that have made our communities cleaner, healthier and more prosperous,” said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. “The award winners are proving that American ingenuity is more than a match for the challenges we face as we move toward cleaner air, healthier families and a stronger economy.” This year’s award recipients were selected from 75 applicants and represent achievement in clean-air technology, community action, educational outreach or regulatory policy innovations. The Placer County award is for community action that includes work on several fronts to reduce the risk of wildfires through hazardous forest-fuels reduction. The efforts include a bio-mass plant for the Tahoe area still in the planning stages. In the last 10 years, the county has experienced five major fires that burned more than 50,000 acres. – Gus Thomson