California Has 3 of the Worst Environmental Offenders in the Country

(PCM) Thinking of moving to the West Coast? California has forests filled with centuries-old Redwoods, oceans for summertime fun and high mountains for snowboarding adventurists. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Before packing up to head cross country, you might rethink the decision.

Energy costs in California can be quite a shock. According to the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average per kilowatt price for electricity in Los Angeles was 21.6 cents in May 2013. By comparison, the average for consumers in Dallas, Texas was 9.94 cents per kWh, the energy suppliers at report. That means hundreds of extra dollars every year are spent just to heat and cool the home.

Then there are the high tax rates, cities struggling to stay out bankruptcy, and ever-increasing regulations for business owners. If you remove the economic challenges, several California cities wear eco-harmful monikers. Seven out of 10 of the cities cited for poor air quality by the American Lung Association are in California. Three of the biggest environmental offenders are listed below:


Rating: Top Polluted City by the American Lung Association (ALA), 2013

Photo by CarbonNYC via Flickr

Nestled among major oil producing companies, Bakersfield skies are laden with soot and chemical fumes. Bakersfield replaced Los Angeles as the Most Polluted City on the 2013 ALA top 10 list. L.A. didn’t drop far, down to number four. Bakersfield is surrounded on three sides by mountains, preventing rapid clearing of fumes.

This city has the highest levels of pollution year-round and some of the highest reported cases of lung and heart health issues. Over the past two decades, though, EPA incentives for farmers have been instrumental in reducing harmful emissions by 80 percent in Bakersfield.

West Fresno

Rating: California City with the Highest Health Risks by California EPA, 2013

Photo by Qymekkam via Wikimedia Commons

West Fresno residents face multiple health challenges, according to California’s EPA. West Fresno residents have a life expectancy that is 20 years shorter than average. Possible reasons include poultry facilities, local rendering plants, a pesticide exposure rating that ranks in the 90th percentile, and numerous other environmental factors. The city reports high rates of asthma, low birth weights, widespread poverty, and vast social and health differences across metrics for ethnicity and education.

Designation as one of the worst cities in California might help the community overcome numerous challenges to living healthy lives. Under State Senate Bill 535 (2006), health screening tools and appropriate funds from auctions of greenhouse allowances are being funneled toward this disadvantaged community.

Los Angeles

Rating: Number One in Ozone Pollution

Photo by Al Pavangkanan via Flickr

With a population of more than 18 million, pollution created by cars is a real problem. Even with a reduction of harmful airborne compounds of 98 percent in the past few years, LA is still ranked number one in ozone pollution.

Bakersfield and L.A. have made progress. As more eco-friendly practices become more prevalent across the state, and the costs of rehabilitating the environment go down, it might get less expensive to live in this beautiful state with such an abundance of natural beauty – if it doesn’t get destroyed by environmental abuse.