Environmental Justice Focus of Visit
(Bell Gardens) - Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia showed Jared Blumenfeld, Secretary for the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) the 58th Assembly District yesterday, touring areas relevant to her environmental justice mantra. Garcia has championed environmental justice legislation focused on air and water quality regulations as well as soil contamination that have long plagued the region and its residents with toxins that have been directly linked to chronic illness and lower life expectancy.
“Today, Secretary Blumenfeld witnessed a day in the life of a community of color living in the shadows of man-made toxic disasters, which have been treated like a wasteland for generations,” said Garcia. “I’m very appreciative that the Secretary gave us some visibility today; breathing our air, drinking our water, and hearing our concerns. It’s important to have that understanding as we work together to address decades of pollution that was entirely preventable and will lead to better health outcomes throughout California’s diverse communities.”
The district tour included stops around the six freeways that choke the district, the perimeter of the Commerce rail yard, Bandini Park, brownfields in Bell Gardens and Commerce, and an oil refinery at the district’s boundary.
“I appreciated the opportunity to hear from members of the community about a range of pressing air, water and soil contamination issues,” said Secretary Blumenfeld. “We must work together toward finding solutions and ensuring that all Californians have safe homes and communities in which to live and thrive.”
Following the tour Secretary Blumenfeld joined Assemblywoman Garcia at the Bell Gardens Neighborhood Youth Center for an environmental justice roundtable discussion with local community leaders. Topics included air quality, including air pollution from facilities in cap and trade, freeways/goods movement, and other soil and water toxics that threaten the health of the community. mark! Lopez with East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, Angelo Logan with the Moving Forward Network, Monsignor John Moretta with Resurrection Church, Teresa Marquez with Mothers of East LA, Eddy Vajarakitipongse of yaknowlikestudios, City of Bell Gardens Mayor Alejandra Cortez, Monica Cantoran a USC environmental studies student, Michael O’Kelly the City Manager Bell Gardens, Adrian Martinez of Earth Justice, Xugo Lujan with Communities for a Better Environment and Jane Williams of California Communities Against Toxics attended the discussion.
Garcia had previous success with her air quality bill, AB 617, in 2017 when Governor Brown signed the legislation that put California at the forefront of leading the world on climate change regulations, ensuring that the state thinks globally but acts locally to help the most burdened communities in our own backyard. Last week Governor Newsom signed her bill, AB 756, to notify consumers of toxic ‘forever chemicals’ in public water supplies.
“To my knowledge, this is the first time any environmental protection agency secretary has visited this community,” added Garcia. “This administration gives me hope that we will truly build upon our past achievements to address these environmental crises and lead by example starting in our own backyard. The fact is California is not all palm trees and beaches or redwood forests and snow-packed ski resorts. We live in some of the most polluted areas of the nation and in some of the most pristine. But all Californian’s should be entitled to an equal piece of justice for their environment and a quality of life befitting of the Golden State. That’s what I believe in, what I shared today and what I will continue to share with anyone willing to help me lead.”
The 58th Assembly District includes the cities of Montebello, Pico Rivera, Commerce, Bell Gardens, Downey, Norwalk, Bellflower, Cerritos and Artesia.
CONTACT: Teala Schaff, 916-319-2058, Teala.Schaff@asm.ca.gov