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PCL Insider: News from the Capitol
CALIFORNIANS RALLY AT CAPITOL TO OPPOSE 'CREATIVE' CLOSURE OF 48 STATE PARKS
The public outpouring of support for protecting our parks is being heard loud and clear in the State Capitol. Even the Governor is publicly backing away from his "cuts only" proposal and encouraging lawmakers to "get creative."
It doesn't take much creativity to salvage our parks and ensure that California families can continue to enjoy these beautiful places. We encourage our state policy makers to put away the carving knives and put on their thinking caps.
THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY: SUPPORTERS OF MEASURE STRENGTHENING CEQA TRAVEL TO STATE CAPITOL TO TESTIFY
On Monday, supporters of SB 1165 (Kuehl) arrived in Sacramento to make their case before the Senate Environmental Quality Committee. The measure, sponsored by PCL, requires greater transparency in the preparation of Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs) and requires review of old EIRs before a project is approved.
Elva Yañez, Executive Director of the Audubon Center in Los Angeles' Debs Park and Stephanie Taylor from Green LA, implored the committee members to support SB 1165 and described their multi-year effort to secure a new review for a an EIR that was nearly two decades old. While local community groups eventually convinced the Los Angeles City Council to require a new environmental review of the proposed project, as Yañez pointed out to the committee members, their hard-fought victory is the exception, not the rule.
Since two members of the committee were absent from the committee hearing, a vote on SB 1165 is scheduled for Monday, April 14th.
PCL and our partner groups are continuing to build support for this important measure. Even if you can't make the trek to Sacramento, you can still make your voice heard!
NORTH-SOUTH AGREEMENT: EDITORIALS HARMONIZE ON WATER POLICY RECOMMENDATION
AB 2153 (Krekorian) requires developers to install cost effective water conservation measures in new residential and commercial developments. It also requires that developers further mitigate any remaining water use through implementation of water use efficiency measures in existing buildings or the development of environmentally beneficial, greenhouse gas emission-reducing, local water supplies.
The LA Times editorial endorsed an approach similar to AB 2153, stating, "Just as (developers) front funds to install the pipes that connect new communities to public water systems, they could become a source of funding for conservation technologies and recycled water infrastructure in existing and new communities."
The two editorials reflect a growing recognition that California's water supplies are limited, and a building momentum for sound approaches, such as AB 2153, that allow California to maintain water supply reliability while accommodating growth, sustaining a healthy economy, and preserving our environment.
In addition to the editorials, AB 2153 was featured in the LA Times' week-long blog on California water. In this series, PCL's Water Program Manager, Mindy McIntyre has been going toe to toe with Department of Water Resources head, Lester Snow debating solutions for our water future. The blog is still going.
The Assembly Natural Resources Committee will hear AB 2153 on Monday, April 14th. It's scheduled to be heard in the Assembly Housing Committee two days later.
WORKIN' IT: STATE LEGISLATORS STYLING BILLS TO PROMOTE GREEN COLLAR JOBS IN CALIFORNIA
At last count, eight bills have been introduced that fund job creation or institute training programs in green building, solar power, and other burgeoning environmental industries:
AB 2224 (De La Torre) California Solar and Clean Energy Jobs Initiative
AB 2267 (Fuentes) Preference for Job Creating Energy Projects
AB 2477 (Price) California Green Jobs Act of 2008
AB 2622 (Hayashi) Clean Technology Training
AB 2855 (Hancock) Green Technology Partnership Academies
AB 3018 (Nunez) California Green Collar Jobs Act of 2008
SB 1672 (Steinberg) Renewable Energy, Climate Change, Career Technical Education, and Clean Technology Job Creation Bond Act of 201X
AB 2792 (Blakeslee) California Conservation Corps Green Collar Apprenticeship Program
We applaud this heightened attention to the interconnectedness of economy, equity, and environment. California is uniquely poised to take advantage of the incredible potential that is found at this intersection. As we germinate this much-needed green workforce, we must ensure that new green jobs actually improve quality of life, including reducing exposure to workplace toxics, cleaning our air and water, and generating a transit-centered urban landscape.
NEW WATER QUALITY RULES FOR DAIRIES COMPROMISE HUMAN HEALTH: GROUNDWATER SUIT MOOSIC TO CENTRAL VALLEY RESIDENTS' EARS
While most Californians enjoy access to clean drinking water, over a hundred thousand of our state's residents are not so fortunate.
Take the southern portion of the San Joaquin Valley; here roughly 38,000 people are served groundwater that is too polluted to drink. The leading pollutant in their groundwater is nitrate from manure-laden runoff from the area's dairy operations. In Tulare County, which has the highest concentration of dairies in the state, nitrates exceed legal limits in 40 percent of the private wells sampled and in approximately 20 percent of the small public water systems.
Despite this continuing contamination crisis, in May the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board issued a weak industry-wide permit covering the polluted runoff from all 1,600 dairies in the San Joaquin Valley.
Laurel Firestone, co-director of the Community Water Center and one of the attorneys representing AGUA in this suit, explains their rationale: "People that are affected by this are serious about getting real protection and changing the status quo of allowing current land use to pollute. We hope this suit will be a chance for the court to say that 'better than nothing' is not meeting state law."
How many other communities in California face similar groundwater problems? So far, the California Department of Health has only conducted broad-brush estimates. This year, PCL is sponsoring AB 2222 (Caballero), which directs the state to identify communities currently reliant on contaminated sources of groundwater and provide policy recommendations that will direct future state funding to bringing clean water back to these communities.
STUDIES SHOW DIESEL POLLUTION BAD FOR JUST ABOUT ALL PARTS OF YOU; DUELING STATE POLICIES SHOW POTENTIAL TO HELP, EXACERBATE SITUATION
Diesel truck pollution has devastating impacts on the health of all Californians. These pollutants can cause inflammation of the lungs and brain, leading to pulmonary diseases like lung cancer, emphysema, and bronchitis; cardiovascular diseases like heart attack, stroke, and asthma; and neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) estimates that in 2005 diesel pollution from trucks alone was responsible for 1,500 premature deaths in California with a total economic cost of approximately $12 billion due to hospitalizations, asthma attacks, and missed work and school days.
Two major upcoming decisions will shape how the state responds to diesel pollution in the years ahead:
CARB staff is now developing an On-Road Heavy-Duty Diesel Vehicle Rule to clean up the toxic emissions from trucks, buses, and other diesel-powered vehicles. If properly crafted, the Diesel Rule would be the first of its kind in the nation and would be crucial to alleviating California's poor air quality and meeting federal air quality improvement deadlines.
The California Transportation Commission (CTC) has also recently released their list of projects to be funded by Proposition 1B monies for infrastructure improvements along trade corridors. Unfortunately the CTC ignored local air quality impacts as a screening criterion in selecting projects and has recommended specific projects that have been deemed to have a negative localized air quality impact and are located in close proximity to schools, day care centers, homes and other places that are especially vulnerable to air pollution.
To comment on the CTC's list of project, contact PCL's René Guerrero.
Is your city polluted? See where you rank in the American Lung Association's "Best and Worst" list.