AB 1132 Empowers AQMD’s Enforcement Authority for Imminent Danger to the Public
(Sacramento) – Legislation allowing Air Quality Management District’s (AQMD’s) to immediately cease operations at facilities endangering the public today was approved again by the State Assembly. The bill, AB 1132, is authored by Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D- Bell Gardens), Chair of the Assembly Natural Resources Committee. The bill was previously amended in the Senate requiring today’s concurrence vote.
“I’ve lived all my life in the shadows of these businesses, some of whom operate without regard for the people they’re poisoning,” said Garcia who Monday earned approval of historic air quality pollution standards through AB 617 as part of California’s climate change proposals. “I’ve lived through the unfairness’s based on my zip code and the inefficiencies that allow it to continue disproportionally in communities of color, like mine. It’s past time we do something to address the injustice, and this bill is another step towards that challenge.”
Existing law regulates the emission of air pollutants and authorizes the regional AQMD’s and air pollution control districts to enforce those requirements. The law also allows the governing boards and the hearing boards of those AQMD’s to issue an order for abatement, but only after notice is provided and a hearing is held which can take months while the harmful pollution continues.
During the last five years, with authority to immediately cease pollution operations as proposed in this bill, scenarios like Hixson Metal Finishing in Newport Beach, Anaplex Corporation in the City of Paramount, Exide Technologies in Vernon and Ridgeline Energy Services in Santa Fe Springs, would have been ceased immediately upon detection. Industries most likely to create a threat consist of those who emit lead or toxic air contaminants such as hexavalent chromium, cadmium, arsenic, asbestos, and hydrogen sulfide as well as other harmful pollutants.
“When it’s determined an operator is polluting a community at toxic levels, immediate action is necessary to protect the public,” added Garcia. “One day is a day too long to knowingly allow it to continue.”
Assembly Bill 1132 would allow AQMD’s to issue temporary orders and cease those operations that are in violation of either federal or state air quality requirements through a notification to the violator outlining a pending hearing within a set timeframe and process. The order could be rescinded prior to the hearing, which must be set within 15 days of the abatement notification and be held no more than 30 days from issuance, if the accused operator can demonstrate the endangerment situation no longer exists and has been permanently corrected.
If signed by the Governor, the bill would become effective January 1, 2018.
The 58th Assembly District includes the cities of Montebello, Pico Rivera, Commerce, Bell Gardens, Downey, Norwalk, Bellflower, Cerritos and Artesia.