California Air Resources Board Approves Stronger South Coast Air Quality Plan
Crucial air quality plan includes important rules on refineries and other polluters, and sets deadline for warehouses and ports to clean up before tough rules kick in
Riverside, California– Today, California Air Resources Board (CARB) voted to approve the 2016 Air Quality Management Plan (AQMP), a strategy to bring clean air to the region. Environmental, environmental justice, and health groups are concerned about the strategy to allow warehouses to voluntarily clean up, but applauded changes to the plan that would trigger rules on the polluting logistics industry if they fail to clean up on their own. Refineries also will now be required to install life-saving clean air safeguards.
“Communities like mine are on the front lines of air pollution, and we’re being robbed of a healthy life that every person deserves,” said Sadia Kahn, a San Bernardino, California resident who suffers from chronic asthma. “I was happy to see that the oil industry is going to have to clean up now, but I’m still worried about all the pollution that comes into my community from warehouse trucks. We need and deserve a plan that makes sure all big polluters start using clean technology as soon as possible.”
“We’re pleased that air regulators decided to include language in the plan that will hold the polluting logistics industry accountable if they fail to clean up soon,” said Penny Newman, Executive Director of the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice. “While we would have preferred that the industry be held accountable sooner, rather than asking working families to foot the bill, this is nevertheless a step in the right direction.”
"This is a big step in the right direction, but we still have a ways to go before life damaging fossil fuels are a thing of the past" said Allen Hernandez, Organizing Manager with the Sierra Club. "Years of showing up in the hundreds to hearings, meetings and votes paid off. We took off work and school to tell our stories, talked about the burden dirty air put on our families, and pointed out solutions that drove clean energy innovation and created local jobs. We finally have a plan that holds polluters accountable. There's just no time to waste. We need to get it in motion immediately if we truly want the community to have the relief and clean air they deserve. We thank CARB for hearing us today and showing leadership"
On February 3, 2017, nearly 300 impacted community members testified before the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) on the need for a viable plan to clear the air. The common message from those testifying was that air regulators needed to demonstrate leadership and courage in the face of powerful lobbyists from the fossil fuel interests, and approve a plan that puts people over polluters.
The AQMP is the most important air plan in decades. The South Coast Air Basin -- which is home to 17 million people in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Orange, Riverside counties -- has the worst smog and the highest asthma rates in the country. The AQMP will govern air pollution emission reductions for the next 15 years. Progress toward clean air has stalled and the region still faces a steep uphill climb to meet safe air standards under the Clean Air Act, with which it has never been in full compliance.
For years, community members from across the expansive air district have pleaded with air regulators to craft a strong clean air plan that will achieve clean air and relief from deadly air pollution. Low-income, communities of color, like those in the warehouse areas, are disproportionately affected by dirty air. These communities need relief now, not when big polluters decide that they’re ready to clean up their act.
Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice
Sierra Club My Generation Campaign
Warehouse Worker’s Resource Center Warehouse