Yakima Clean Air Authority expresses concerns about air quality - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Yakima Clean Air Authority expresses concerns about air quality

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Yakima, WA -     The Yakima Clean Air Authority says air quality concerns could have a big impact on funding for local transportation projects.     

A stage one burn has been called for the Upper Yakima Valley.     

That means no agricultural burning and the use of any fireplace, uncertified wood stove, or uncertified insert is prohibited unless it's the only source of home heating.            

It's the ninth burn ban that has been called this winter, totaling 41 days so far.       

According to the Yakima Clean Air Authority, we're well on our way to surpassing last year's total.

If Yakima County doesn't meet federal air quality standards, it could pay a pretty steep penalty, and officials with the Clean Air Authority say that's a very real possibility.     

Just last year, the federal government imposed new air quality standards that have forced the Clean Air Authority to call burn bans much more often, and that last much longer than in years past.     

"If we don't get good control of it soon, it's going to be imposed on us by the federal levels," says Dave Caprile of the Yakima Clean Air Authority.

Caprile says that's something they desperately want to avoid.

Worst-case scenario; the Environmental Protection Agency could pull funding for transportation.

But even before that, the Clean Air Authority would have to come up with a plan that will be tougher on the community, and that plan won't be cheap.

It could also scare away new businesses, because they'll be required to have the newest technology, which can be very expensive.

More burn bans doesn't necessarily mean the air is dirtier in Yakima County.  It just means the standards are tougher.

Caprile believes all the smoke from wood stoves in the valley is the biggest culprit when it comes to air quality, and they have a rebate program to get people to trade in their old wood stoves for something more environmentally friendly.