SB 1387 passed a key threshold yesterday by with its approval from the Assembly Natural Resources Committee. The bill, authored by Senate pro tempore Kevin de Leon, Senator Ben Allen and Senator Ricardo Lara, would add three environmental justice seats to the South Coast Air Quality Management District Board, among other provisions related to reduction of pollution from refineries. The positions would be appointed by the Governor, Senate and Assembly, respectively, and each required to be “a representative 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.”
SB 1387 would also give the California Air Resources Board authority to overrule and replace any SCAQMD market-based incentive plan or revision not meeting certain strict requirements as compared to traditional command and control regulation. It would require that any market-based incentive programs achieve greater reductions than command and control regulation and not impose disproportionate impacts on disadvantaged communities.
Our letter to the Chairman, Assembly Natural Resources Committee on why we support the bill is included below:
Dear Chairman Williams:
The Coalition for Clean Air supports SB 1387, which would make two important reforms to help restore healthy air for millions of Californians. First, the bill would establish an expedited process for the state Air Resources Board to review, revise, and override as needed any district weakening of a market-based incentive program. Secondly, the bill would add three new environmental justice appointments to the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s board (one each appointed by the Governor, Senate Rules Committee, and Assembly Speaker).
The South Coast air basin has the worst smog in the entire country, along with particulate pollution that trails only the San Joaquin Valley. The air quality is worst in areas that are predominantly populated by low-income communities of color. SCAQMD has an up-and-down history that has included many important measures that have made the air substantially cleaner than it was decades ago, but much more progress is needed to restore healthy air to our residents. Yet the SCAQMD Board has recently faltered in this effort, weakening a staff proposal to improve its market-based Regional Clean Air Incentives Market (RECLAIM) program at the behest of the oil lobby and firing its long-time executive for purely partisan political reasons. Shamefully, the 13-member Board includes not a single Latino representative, and very few of the Board members live in the areas where smog is the worst.
Adding the EJ appointments would help make the Board more representative of the people who have to breathe the air the District is responsible for cleaning up. Expediting the review process for market-based programs would bring more certainty and urgency to the process of determining whether RECLAIM and similar programs meet state and federal requirements for bringing our air into attainment with health-based standards. Therefore, we urge approval of this important bill to protect the health of California’s breathing public.