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GOVERNOR BROWN SIGNS CRUCIAL CLEAN AIR BILL INTO LAW

 

Celebrating with the Governor after signing AB 617, that will help to clean the air in California, included (l-r): Assembly members Monique Limon, Miguel Santiago, Cristina Garcia, Governor Brown, State Senator Ricardo Lara, Senate President Pro-Tem Kevin DeLeon and Assemblywoman Autumn Burke. Photo by Lou Delgado.

By Larry Caballero

 

Governor Jerry Brown flew from Sacramento to Bell Gardens, as a favor to Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Cerritos-Artesia), to sign into law Assembly Bill 617, the California Health Benefit Exchange Act, co-authored by Garcia, “that will create a statewide climate action plan and program to meet our emission reduction mandate, ensure economic prosperity and address critical health and air quality concerns that are shared by everyone who lives in the 58th Assembly District,” said Garcia.

“This is one of the first major clean air bills ever. This is a big deal!”

Accompanying the Governor and Assemblywoman Garcia Jul. 26 at the Neighborhood Youth Center in Bell Gardens were supporters Speaker of the Assembly Anthony Rendon, Senate President Pro-Tem Kevin DeLeon, State Senator Ricardo Lara and several state assembly members and local public city officials.

Garcia said, “We passed this bill today for people like Maria who takes care of her five grandchildren in a one bedroom apartment in Bell Gardens, but she is afraid to let the kids play outside in the poisoned air, and for Rocio who grows vegetables for her family in Commerce, but she worries they could be toxic from the contaminated soil.

This package, though historic, is only a strong down payment. We have much work ahead of us to address regions like mine that have been treated like wastelands for generations.

Justice is never swift. Environmental justice won’t be either. California is at the tipping point of greatness and I have no intention of letting my home go backwards again.”

Assembly Bill 617 establishes a comprehensive, statewide program – the first of its kind – to address air pollution where it matters most: in neighborhoods with the dirtiest air. This new program helps dramatically improve air quality in local communities through neighborhood air monitoring and targeted action plans that require pollution reductions from mobile and stationary sources with strong enforcement and timetables.

The legislation also mandates that large industrial facilities, including oil refineries, in California’s most polluted communities upgrade their old, dirty equipment with cleaner, more modern technology by December 2023 at the latest.

The legislation also increases the penalties against polluters that the Legislature has not been able to increase in more than 35 years.

This bill would also require the State Air Resources Board to develop a uniform statewide system of annual reporting of emissions of criteria air pollutants and toxic air contaminants for use by certain categories of stationary sources.

Garcia told local dignitaries in attendance, “This bill was absolutely essential for California to meet its ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.”

Rendon and DeLeon agreed that the bill was necessary in order to help fight the dirty air that is making so many in the area to be sick and to suffer premature deaths.

Auctions from the cap-and-trade program will also provide billions of dollars for projects that will aid in the transition to a clean energy economy. The cap-and-trade funds may also be used to protect Californians from the damaging effects of climate change.

 

Brown holds up signed bill. Looking on is Assemblywoman Garcia, State Senator Lara, and Senate President Pro Tem DeLeon. Photo by Lou Delgado.

 

“On balance the package ensures our emissions limits are enforceable against polluters and secures critical gains to improve air quality for millions of Californians,” said Brown.

“By the Governor signing this overarching climate change plan into law, we have paved the way for state regulators to create the system of doling out and auctioning off greenhouse gas allowances,” said Garcia.

“It has been a culmination of months of negotiations in Sacramento on the finer points,” said Brown. “Now California is leading the world in dealing with the principal existential threat that humanity faces.”

Assemblywoman Garcia is Chair of the Assembly Natural Resources Committee.

The 58th Assembly District includes the cities of Montebello, Pico Rivera, Commerce, Bell Gardens, Downey, Norwalk, Bellflower, Cerritos and Artesia.

 

 

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