Green Fatigue

No-Burn Days Go Unenforced in Maricopa County for Christmas; Zero Warnings and Citations Issued


Nobody can label the folks over at Maricopa County's Air Quality Department a bunch of Scrooges.

After a warning last week that no-burn days on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day would be enforced, exactly zero warnings and citations were issued, a county official says.

Oddly, all this non-enforcement happened despite the efforts of teams of inspectors. The county dispatched four inspectors and a supervisor on Friday and five inspectors and a supervisor on Saturday to look for violations.

You'd think even Inspector Clouseau could handle the job: You just look for smoke coming out of chimneys.

But from the sound of it, these crack teams from the county only added to the pollution problem by driving all over the Valley, doing nothing.


Cari Gerchick, a county spokeswoman, says she received the stats from the supervisor of the county's air quality unit.

She also reports that 29 complaints about possible no-burn violations were received on December 24th and 25th, and that the teams responded to 14 of those. Gerchick says the teams merely passed out fliers in neighborhoods and didn't knock on the doors of any suspected violators.

Meanwhile, levels of particulate-related air pollution soared on Friday and Saturday.

True, the county's in a bad spot on this issue. The other extreme would be to have Nazi-like county inspectors dragging Christmas celebrators from their home because of burning Yule logs.

To all the people who kept their fireplaces cold over the Christmas holiday, without any need for citations or threats -- thanks for keeping the air slightly less chunky. 


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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.