(Sacramento) – Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), Chair of the Assembly Natural Resources Committee, today released the following statement on her bill, AB 617, Nonvehicular air pollution/criteria air pollutants and toxic air contaminants:
“Today, we are integrating the fight against air pollution with the fight against climate change. We are establishing real targets, deadlines and enforcement to address air pollution in the most burdened communities. This is a significant down-payment towards ensuring all Californians get their piece of environmental justice. For generations, communities like mine have been treated like disposable toxic wastelands, without regard for the people that call them home. This bill begins to right that wrong.
“AB 617 balances the global focus and flexibility of the cap and trade program with real measures that will improve air quality in our communities. Some of these issues haven’t been addressed in my lifetime, if ever. It’s not everything we need to fully right all the human-made disasters in our communities, but it contains the three essential elements (targets, deadlines and enforcement) that put California on the path to cleaner air.
“We know with certainty that the consequences of bad air quality are far-reaching and long lasting. Six freeways run through my district alone, choking us from ever breathing fresh air. Stationary and mobile pollution sources, like rail yards and oil refineries, spew poisons daily into our schools, parks and backyards. Those pollutants destroy the health of individuals whose lives are cut short, people from working class communities of color. This is not debatable.
“Tools available in AB 617 will create data to hold regulators and industry accountable and improve public health. Empowering local air districts with funds will engage communities to plan for a cleaner, more just future. Thoughtful, deadline-driven strategies will reduce emissions and clean-up hot spots of toxic air pollutants. These are actionable solutions today, particularly in areas that have been historically excused from recourse, like the thousands of family homes surrounding Exide that beg for fair remedy.
“Clean air mandates through AB 617 are a good down-payment towards rectifying the environmental injustices communities have endured for decades. But make no mistake; we cannot rest on this measure alone. That’s going to require ongoing due-diligence by businesses, environmentalists, community leaders and all Californians.
“Our policy today is a step in the right direction. Nonetheless, we must and can go further to address the continuous climate threats we face daily. I have every intention of being part of the ongoing solution to uphold my commitment to my community and to the health of our Earth. We don’t all breathe the same air, but we should. We are all Californians.
“I’m committed to continuing the fight and implore my peers to join me in prioritizing, accelerating and expanding the good work we’ve begun today.”
The 58th Assembly District includes the cities of Montebello, Pico Rivera, Commerce, Bell Gardens, Downey, Norwalk, Bellflower, Cerritos and Artesia.