With air quality topping Central Valley political agendas and opinion polls, many California cities are following the lead of Madera and Tulare, the Fresno Bee newspaper reported on October 14. Madera and Tulare, with a combined population of less than 25 percent of Fresno's population, have more than 100 clean-fuel vehicles between them — about 25percent of their respective fleets. Most Valley cities nudge 10 percent at most. The Valley is the second-worst place in the country for dirty air. And when federal smog standards change in the next few years, the Valley will become the worst. That prospect makes city leaders look hard at cleaning up older diesels, which are among the main contributors to the dirty air. The cities of Fresno, Clovis, Bakersfield and Lodi are on the same page. They are also gradually phasing out gasoline- and diesel-powered transit buses, trucks and cars.Madera and Tulare lean on natural-gas power, although clean, "alternative fuels" include such options as all-electric, propane, ethanol, biodiesel, chemically altered diesel, hybrid-electric and, in the future, hydrogen. Tulare has about 70 natural-gas vehicles, including 26 police cruisers, and a $2 million natural-gas fueling station. Madera, with 38 natural-gas vehicles, won a national award this month from the Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition. Madera City Council Member Sam Armentrout, who also sits on the governing board for the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, said, "Whenever it makes sense for the city to buy these vehicles, you can be sure we will." In Tulare, Lew Nelson, assistant public works director, says, "If it's a street sweeper, garbage truck, you name it, any vehicle available in an alternative fuel, we buy it. We've been doing it for years."