(January 8, 2005) -- Declaring that "the time has come to take off the gloves and tell the plain truth about what needs to be done," South Coast Air Quality Management District governing board chair William Burke said the agency should promote and develop the implementation of specific strategies for reducing toxic and smog-forming emissions from ports and railroads -- what he called "two of the most under-regulated pollution sources in southern California."
In his January 7 "State of the Air" remarks at the AQMD's first board meeting of the year, chairman Burke called for a series of first-ever mobile AQMD board meetings in 2005 that will take the agency into the field to hear from people directly affected by polluted air.
He also urged creation of a "Children's Clean Air Bill of Rights." "We are not doing enough for the future of our children, knowing that poor lung function is second only to smoking as a risk factor for premature death," said Burke, adding "the time for political correctness has passed."
Burke's remarks follow release of a 2004 USC Children's Health Study (previously reported by LBReport.com) which indicated that many children growing up in the southland may suffer permanently underdeveloped lungs as a result of breathing smog. "Every day we don't advance the cause for cleaner air is a day our children lose," he said.
Major components of the agency initiative (called "AQMD Is Clearing the Air") include:
- "Mobile" AQMD board meetings in each of AQMD's four counties to "better engage the 16 million residents of our region on air quality issues." The meetings would be held "out in the communities that we are charged with protecting. We get an earful from paid lobbyists at every one of our [Diamond Bar HQ] meetings. I'd like to take us out into the field and listen to the people who are directly affected by those issues that we deal with on a monthly basis. I want us to use our new initiative to promote and develop the implementation of specific strategies for reducing toxic and smog forming emissions from railroads and ports, two of the most under-regulated pollution sources in southern California," he added.
- Drafting a "Children's Clean Air Bill of Rights" in which children and others will be invited to sign petitions supporting heightened efforts to clean the air
- Dialogue with residents on strategies for reducing toxic air pollution
following the expected release later this year of results from AQMD's "MATES-III" (Multiple
Air Toxics Exposure Study).
- Opportunities to discuss AQMD's goal to convert all school buses in the
region to compressed natural gas or lower-emission diesel models.
AQMD is the air pollution control agency for OC and major parts of L.A., San Bernardino and Riverside counties.