Assembly Passes "Diesel Magnet Sources" Anti-Pollution Bill After Assemblywoman Oropeza Agrees To Take Amendments As Legislation Moves To Senate
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(February 1, 2006) -- A bill closely watched by LBReport.com that would define "diesel magnet sources" of pollution to include airports, seaports and certainb rail sources, requiring them to inventory their toxic releases, conduct risk assessments, notify affected communities and devise ways to reduce exposure squeaked through the Assembly after its author, Assemblywoman Jenny Oropeza (D., Carson-LB) agreed to take amendments as the legislation advances through the Senate.
As previously reported by LBReport.com, the bill came up short in two Assembly vote tallies on Jan. 30 and was placed on reconsideration status for Jan. 31, by which it had to pass the Assembly or die.
When the bill came up Jan. 31, Assemblywoman Oropeza rose to announce that she has agreed to take certain amendments in the Senate:
As you may recall from yesterday, there was some discussion about a potential split of jurisidiction between state and regional agencies. Although this bill will be implemented at the regional level, I will be taking amendments in the Senate to clarify, and I will also be working with some of the impacted entities and businesses who are affected by this legislation to further facilitate the workability of the legislature to assure there are not expectations that are unreasonable or operationally unworkable...
The Assembly responded by passing the bill on a 43-32 vote (41 votes needed to pass).
Assemblywoman Betty Karnette (D., LB) voted "yes" on the bill on both Jan. 30 and 31. For a full tally of the Assembly "ayes," "nays" and "not voting or absent," click here.
In a written release after the successful vote, Assemblywoman Oropeza said, "This is another piece of the puzzle to get us in full compliance with federal standards statewide and to make the air clean for all of us to breathe. There is no question and the documentation is clear that these diesel pollutants are affecting the health of Californians. I think we have a moral and ethical obligation to do everything we can. The future relies on us."
In presenting the bill on the Aseembly floor on Jan. 30, Assemblywoman Oropeza said, "I feel that we are poisoning ourselves, particularly in many of the communities that we represent, that are adjacent to these types of facilities, as mine is." She added, "[F]rankly I am offended by the position that the [CA] Chamber has taken on this as a "job killer" bill. They've characterized this bill as "job killer" bill when frankly this industry is a job-creator and protecting our health does not kill jobs. It keeps people alive."
As previously reported by LBReport.com, LB City Hall did not make lobbying for the Oropeza bill a priority, although the City Council has adopted a "state legislative agenda" that recites general support for state legislation that improves air quality.
Tom Modica, City Hall's Manager of Government Affairs, told LBReport.com on Jan. 30 that city staff took a "watch" position on the Oropeza bill. "We actively supported Sen. [Alan] Lowenthal's clean air bills [SB 760-764] and the AQMD supported measures but we simply don't have the resources to do everything," Mr. Modica said.
The City of LB operates an Airport and a Port, both of which would be affected by the AB 1101. Mr. Modica said city staff kept Councilmembers advised in writing of the status of specific bills (via memos to members of the Council's State Legislation Committee, cc'd to other Councilmembers).
Mr. Modica added that staff plans to have a webpage available shortly that will make legislative information on specific bills available to the public, not just the Council. "We're finalizing the page now and expect to have news for you in a week or so," Mr. Modica said. [LBReport.com comment: Good!]
The City Council did not direct that staff take anything other than a "watch" position on the Oropeza bill. The City Council's State Legislation Committee (chair, Dan Baker) recently forwarded a city "state legislative agenda" to the Council but (as in previous years) it doesn't refer to specific legislation, stating only general policies...and the Council took no position specifically on the Oropeza bill.
LB's "Board of Harbor Commissioners" (non-elected, non-recallable) also took no public position on AB 1101...but the legislation was opposed last year by the LB Area Chamber of Commerce and the "California Trade Coalition."
The "CA Trade Coalition" letterhead lists component groups including the "CA Association of Port Authorities" whose current president is Richard Steinke, Executive Director of the Port of LB. The "CA Ass'n of Port Authorities" has stated in hearings on other legislation that it speaks for CA's publicly owned ports (including the Port of LB).
(LBReport.com first reported the link between the PoLB and the "CA Ass'n of Port Authorities" in November 2005.)
We post below extended excerpts of the Assemblywoman Oropeza's Jan. 30 floor statement (monitored via Assembly webcast audio), below. Her extemporaneous oratory was delivered in a composed, focused, businesslike tone of voice:
Assemblywoman Oropeza: ...I take all pollution very seriously, particularly air pollution, and I hope that you also do. I feel that we are poisoning ourselves, particularly in many of the communities that we represent, that are adjacent to these types of facilities, as mine is.
And frankly I am offended by the position that the [CA] Chamber has taken on this as a "job killer" bill. They've characterized this bill as "job killer" bill when frankly this industry is a job-creator and protecting our health does not kill jobs. It keeps people alive.
...The goods movement related to these facilities are critical to the growth of our economy and I'm very supportive, and I feel this bill is consistent with the continual growth of these facilities and industries, but I believe -- and I think you need go no further than your local newspaper -- that the growing public awareness of the issue of air pollutants shows an expanding public awareness that must be responded to and that response is not possible without the leadership of important bodies like this, and the courage that is required to stand up and adopt policies like one that I believe are measured and prudent and responsible.
I really feel that we must deal head-on with the carcinogens related to diesel emissions in a responsible fashion. This bill calls for risk assessments, and then an appropriate timeline for the industries associated with those risks, should they be identified, with identifying clean-up measures, and then appropriate timelines for their implementation.
We're not asking for immediate, already defined solutions. This is a responsible and prudent approach. Some would like us to take a more aggressive approach, but I think this is responsible. It respects the need of business to assess risk and be responsible and to have the time to create solutions but it also asks, indeed demands, that industry acknowledge its participation in creating emissions and helping to solve the problem.
We all breathe the air, colleagues. And as leaders in this state, we have a responsibility to help solve the problem.
I ask you to reject the [CA] Chamber's bogus "job killer" label on this bill and help lead California into the 21st century in a cleaner environment, and please vote "aye" on this measure.
On Jan. 30, Assemblyman Tom Harman (R., HB) spoke against Assemblywoman Oropeza's bill, charging it would shift regulatory power from the CA Air Resources Board (CARB) to local bodies [like SCAQMD] and create a confusing patchwork of regulations.
As previously reported by LBReport.com, supporters of a controversial CARB-RR MOU (backed by the CA and LB Chambers and RRs, opposed by SCAQMD and the LB City Council) made parallel arguments.
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