Deal to reduce pollution on Mesa OK’d

County supervisors on Tuesday gave final approval to an agreement to reduce the amount of dust blowing onto the Nipomo Mesa from Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area amid concerns that the deal lacks teeth and meaningful deadlines.

“This is an incomplete agreement, to say the least,” Supervisor Bruce Gibson said.

Supervisors renewed previous requests that State Parks have a pilot project up and running in the Dunes by March 1, the beginning of the windy season. The agreement itself has no such deadline.

Gibson said he is skeptical of State Parks’ commitment to finding a solution, given that the agency has refused to accept the findings of a study that linked off-highway vehicle riding in the park to unhealthy air on the Mesa.

Key to the success of the agreement is a seven-person technical advisory committee, which will draw up the specifics of the dust control program using a particulate pollution scientist as a consultant. However, State Parks officials have warned that it could take six months or longer to hire such a consultant.

The state Coastal Commission and other regulatory agencies will likely also have to approve the particulate reduction program, potentially prolonging the process even more. This prompted supervisors to urge State Parks officials to use “all possible creativity” in speeding up the process.

A nine-person management oversight committee will also be named. Dr. Penny Borenstein, county health officer, has volunteered to serve on the oversight committee. Gibson has volunteered to serve on either of the committees.

Now that the agreement has been approved, the county, State Parks and the air pollution control district have two weeks to name the members of the two committees.

Reach David Sneed at 781-7930.