Meanwhile, California farmers are confronting a different deadline. The government is pressuring producers there to devise strategies for meeting clean air standards ... and time is running out.
The farms are blamed for 51% of the tiny specks of dust contributing to smog in the 270- mile-long area between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
The dust particles come from diesel exhaust, soot, ash and organic compounds from dairies such as ammonia. Most of the pollution controls center on decreasing dust -- such as watering unpaved roads, switching to organic farming and working at night when winds are lighter.
The dust-fighting requirements are an outgrowth of a 2001 American Lung Association report that said three of the five most polluted places in the nation were in this rural landscape ... and that residents here had the nation's highest asthma rate.
As of early December, two-thirds of the eligible farmers had submitted their two-year pollution control plans.
The latest cleanup plan is to reduce particulate pollution by 23% -- or 34 tons a day -- by 2010. To date, the region has missed a series of federal deadlines to reduce pollution.