[Source: Orange County Register] A 20-year study released last week by the USC Environmental Health Centers found “that millennial children in Southern California breathe easier than ones who came of age in the ’90s, for a reason as clear as the air in Los Angeles today,” in the school’s summary. It’s a major achievement for the Southern California Air Quality Management District, which was set up 70 years ago.
Yet there’s a movement in the state Legislature to increase centralized control over this success story of local government. Senate Bill 1387 is by Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León; it was approved Wednesday by the Senate Environmental Quality Committee. Among other things, it would greatly increase the supervision of the AQMD by the California Air Resources Board.
And it would expand AQMD board membership by three, to 16. Currently, 10 board members are elected local government officials, while one each is appointed by the governor, Assembly speaker and the head of the Senate Rules Committee. Those three politicians, under SB1387, would appoint the three new members, who, in the bill’s language, must “be representatives of a bona fide nonprofit environmental justice organization that advocates for clean air and pollution reductions in one or more communities within the South Coast air basin.” That is, they likely would be environmental activists.
The bill analysis quotes Sen. de León as complaining about the AQMD board: “Within the last six months, with its recent changes in governance, it has voted to dismiss its longstanding executive officer and weaken clean air regulations over its expert staff’s recommendations.”
We would point out that those kinds of decisions are the job of a governing board.
“AQMD since it was created always has gone forward cleaning the air, never backward,” Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson told us; he is one of the elected local officials on the AQMD board. He said Sen. de León’s complaints are “just a bank shot for increasing CARB’s powers.”
In the bigger picture, SB1387 is part of Sen. de León’s lengthy campaign to reduce air pollution to unrealistically low levels. It should be rejected by the full Senate and by the Assembly.
Source: The Orange County Register
April 21, 2016