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Our Letter to The California Air Resources Board

On March 23, after years of our communities standing up for our right to breathe clean, healthy air, the California Air Resources Board unanimously approved our community-led resolutions and amendments to the South Coast Air Quality Management Plan. Before the vote, our Executive Director Penny Newman submitted the following statement.

Statement by Center for Community Action & Environmental Justice On and 2016 State Strategy for the State Implementation Plan and South Coast Air Quality Management Plan

This past year has taught us much. The residents of our region searching for solutions to the dirty air that is suffocating our communities know they can no longer rely on the federal government for any help.

We learned a couple weeks ago that we can no longer trust our South Coast AQMD to seriously address this issue either.

They have presented a plan that has no teeth and relies on the good intentions, warm fuzzy feelings and generous heart of an industry that has demonstrated time and again its lack of caring for our well-being.  Rubbing salt in the wound the plan calls upon us to be taxed to pay the polluters to stop killing us.  They’ve outlined potential funding measures that include:   $20 additional Vehicle Registration Fees; Gasoline Tax; Property Tax increase; and Sales Tax Add-On.

AQMD wants to tax their residents to create a pot of funds to give to the logistics industry for things they could and should be doing now as responsible companies.

For our communities this is unconscionable. Some people living near these facilities make an annual household income of less than $10,000.  We hear from families that their personal choices aren’t whether to buy a hybrid car or funny looking light bulbs- but whether they should buy their child’s asthma medicine or put food on the table for the whole family.  And AQMD wants them to pay?

The other alternative is to seek billions of dollars from Washington D.C.   For anyone following the day-to-day drama in DC this is absurd.  We won’t get funds from Washington. How South Coast can propose this plan with a straight face puzzles me.  It simply doesn’t pass the giggle test.

That leaves you – the CARB Board.  You are our last hope for reason and compassion.  You are charged with deciding the fate of the residents of our communities, region and state.   Your decision will dictate whether they have clean air to breathe; whether we will continue to suffer under this horrendous pollution burden; or whether we will live or die.  You know the facts – 5000 people die each year from the air they breathe – that’s 12-15 people every day!  In San Bernardino County alone there are over 313,000 people struggling with asthma. On the Westside of San Bernardino City, a health study conducted by Loma Linda University identified 3 cancer clusters associated with the pollution from the railyard, and a 47% asthma rate for children at the local school. But you know all this.

You know that despite the alternative facts spewed out by a local economist and regurgitated by some of our local elected officials – warehouses don’t bring middle class jobs – they are temporary jobs paying barely minimum wage in an industry rampant with wage theft.  You know that while the logistics industry is touted as the fastest growing job sector – they are crappy jobs in unsafe conditions.  From Claremont McKenna College, to the  Brookings Institute and others point out that while it may be bringing in numbers of jobs they do not pay well.  The result is our poverty rates continue to rise and the prosperity of our region continues to slump. We are a population of working poor.  And the inevitable transition to automation will even eliminate those jobs within the next 5 years.

The idea that regulations will force the industry to leave the state is ludicrous!  The location of these facilities depends on the ports.  The closer they are to the ports the better.  They aren’t going anywhere.

From our perspective there is only one choice – CARB must enact a serious, comprehensive plan that will lead to compliance and save lives.  We call on you to do the following:

  • Accept the South Coast’s Air Management Plan. We have no doubt that if sent back to them they will not come back with a better plan.  We have lost all faith in their ability or desire to protect us.
  • Instead use your Indirect Source Authority to control pollution from large freight sources like ports, railyard and warehouses.
  • Assign emission reduction budgets (caps) to freight hubs
  • Push for ZERO emission technology deployment and forget these near ZERO alternative technologies. Investing in technologies that are half effective when you can invest in fully effective measures delays our ability to truly get to where we want to be.

Penny J. Newman
Executive Director


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