California power shutdowns raise air pollution worries

FILE - In this Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019 file photo, Joe Wilson pulls his generator out in the garage of his home, which is in an area that is expected to lose power in the East Foothills area of San Jose, Calif. Power shutdowns intended to prevent more The Associated Press
FILE - In this Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019 file photo, Joe Wilson pulls his generator out in the garage of his home, which is in an area that is expected to lose power in the East Foothills area of San Jose, Calif. Power shutdowns intended to prevent more devastating California wildfires are raising concerns about another environmental threat: air pollution. As utilities temporarily halted service to more than 2 million people this week, many fired up standby generators that spew toxic emissions. (Randy Vazquez/San Jose Mercury News via AP, File)

Power shutdowns intended to prevent more devastating California wildfires are raising concerns about another environmental threat: air pollution.

Utilities temporarily halted service to more than 2 million people this week, fearing high winds would knock down power lines and ignite infernos.

That led many hospitals, businesses and others to fire up standby generators, some fueled with diesel and gasoline that spew toxic emissions.

Some officials say that could further harm California's already poor air quality.

They say it's too early to know how significant the effects could be.

But the need to consider environmental impacts of blackouts is a new wrinkle for policymakers and planners dealing with a constant threat of catastrophic fires and more extreme weather due to climate change.