From my own tri-city area in southern CA:

The High Desert’s air quality district fears that a federal sanction of more than $14 million in emissions penalties may threaten the future of the cement industry in the Victor Valley.

“This action could spell a death sentence for local cement manufacturing, an industry which has long been a pivotal contributor to the region’s economy as well as a major employer,” Eldon Heaston, executive director of the Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District, said in a statement.

The district’s biggest objection to the fees: The factories being penalized aren’t to blame for the region’s air pollution problems, according to the [Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District] MDAQMD. Rather, the local desert air is getting clogged by emissions blowing in from the Los Angeles Basin and cars, trucks and trains . . .

. . . As part of Section 185 in the federal Clean Air Act, the MDAQMD was required to reduce its ground-level ozone to federal target levels by 2007. Ground-level ozone forms when emissions of nitrogen oxide and volatile organic compounds “cook” in the sun. The resulting air pollution can cause respiratory problems, asthma and other health issues . . .

. . .For the local Cemex facilities, the fees total $11.4 million. That’s the majority of the $15 million local payroll for Cemex, which employs 240 employees at the Victor Valley cement plant and quarry, according to Cemex spokeswoman Jennifer Borgen. She noted the local operations are modernized with the best available emissions control technology and meet federal and state permit limits.

Some companies like TXI Riverside Cement face no fines because they happened to decrease production compared to 2007, while Cemex was expanding and transitioning into more efficient kilns, Roberts said.

Unless regulations change, those fees could continue to be imposed until the district gets its ozone levels down. But Roberts said that likely wouldn’t happen even if all the High Desert factories shut down. The real solution involves reducing those mobile and South Coast emissions sources, she said . . .

Basically the Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District has scientifically show that the emissions coming out of the plants is clean (CA standards are higher than federal standards and the Cemex plant is in compliance with CA emission standards), but the air quality in the high desert is damaged by LA County pollution which blows through the Cajon pass, combines with car emissions, then blows into the Victor Valley.

Because the fine--which can be continually assessed--is more than 2/3 of the plant's payroll, the plant may have to just go out of business. The population in the area is 243,500, so 1% of the workforce in the area will be wiped out based on bad, centralized, federal law that isn't even as strict as current CA law (which is about to get much stronger).

So, are the unintended consequences of the federal law worth it?

The local editor of the paper doesn't put full articles online, but here's the link to the partial article: