America’s 20 Dirtiest Cities: California The Filthiest State

Fresno, California has the unwanted distinction of being the worst offender of America’s 20 Dirtiest Cities. In a state well known for its environmentalist efforts, the Central Valley has that lovely tint to the air, making it one of seven Californian cities to win the booby prize for cleanliness according to Forbes.

Forbes created their list of the 20 Dirtiest Cities In America by using the website Website owner Bert Sperling is also the author of the books Best Places To Raise Your Family and Cities Ranked And Rated. lets you compare and contrast cities based upon categories including cost of living and environmental factors.

The Forbes report is based upon EPA data that “measures watershed quality by looking at 15 indicators like pollutants, sediments, and toxic releases.” Forbes explains how they used this data to derive America’s 20 dirtiest cities:

“To get a set of dirty cities, we identified which metro areas (with population of 500,000 or more) showed up on both lists for poor water quality and air quality. Then we averaged their rankings on the indices. We then took a look at some other sources, such as EPA data on the big cities with the most toxic releases (Houston, Texas — ranked 13th — leads by a mile), the American Lung Association’s annual State of the Air report, as well as a look at the prevalence of Superfund sites in the various areas.”

Based upon this methodology they then manually tweaked the list by looking to other sources. For example, New York ranks as the 11th dirtiest city in the country but decades of oil and petroleum leakage on the Brooklyn waterfront has poisoned the earth and the drinking ground water it contains. Fortunately for New Yorkers, their drinking water is now piped in from the Adirondacks.

In a controversial effort to clean up their act, California will be implementing a cap-and-trade energy plan that will penalize companies that emit more than 25,000 cubic tons of carbon dioxide a year. Cap-and-trade, of course, is intended to target Global Warming. Carbon dioxide has little to no impact on air quality but cleaning up CO2 will have the side effect of reducing sulfur dioxide and soot.

The first cap-and-trade auction set the one ton carbon allowance price at $10.09. Companies who barely pollute can sell their extra credits, which of course includes green alternative energy companies who will reap the benefit. Experts project that for every $10 spent by energy companies Californians will spend 10 cents more on gasoline prices.

Other factors include the controversial move by Obama and Democrats to force coal-fired power plants to install air-scrubbing technology. Political actions like these have been decried by Republicans as a “war on coal” because Obama previously made statements like this:

“If someone wants to build a new coal-fired power plant they can, but it will bankrupt them because they will be charged a huge sum for all the greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”

The good news for the United States is that the EPA is reporting that America’s air quality has generally been getting better:

Cleaner cars, industries, and consumer products have contributed to cleaner air for much of the U. S. … Since 1990, nationwide air quality has improved significantly for the six common air pollutants. … Total emissions of toxic air pollutants have decreased by approximately 42 percent between 1990 and 2005. … [Greenhouse Gas] emissions from the U.S. have increased by approximately 7 percent since 1990.


Do you live in one of America’s 20 dirtiest cities? If so, what do you think should be done to correct the problem?