By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Cardenas, however, seemed skeptical that the board, which includes no Hispanic members, really understood the priorities in places like Pacoima, which has generations of contamination in its soil and air. He spoke of his own past, when he helped his gardener father dump refuse all over the eastern San Fernando Valley. He said, ”Right here in Pacoima, we still have at least 10 [industrial] pollution sites.“ Mostly, though, he spoke of SB115, one of the state-legislative accomplishments of now-Congresswoman Hilda Solis. This ”environmental justice“ law specifies that benefits of state environmental legislation must benefit everyone -- not just the ditsy denizens of Capitola and Santa Cruz, who showed up in battalion strength to back the battery at January‘s CARB meeting. Cardenas and Firebaugh seem to have their doubts that everyone is getting equal attention from the CARB. Which is why he invited its members to Pacoima.
”We want them to know what we feel they’re there for,“ the assemblyman said. ”We‘re past due on [implementing] SB115,“ Cardenas said after the meeting. ”And I have nothing against the ZEV car itself. I’m just not sure how much they are going to do for places like Pacoima.“
I wonder if the air-board leadership realizes that it is now in trouble on two fronts. First, there is the GM suit. Wherein, should the matter go to court, the board will finally have to present some long-absent statistical proof that enough battery cars can be sold to make a real difference in the state‘s air quality. This is proof that its own staff has not yet been able to produce.
Then, there’s this lack of confidence among the increasingly powerful representatives of the state‘s minority communities that the CARB cares enough about polluted urban areas. Both Firebaugh and Cardenas raise the suspicion that the CARB may have swapped general principles for specific prejudices: to have so fallen in love with the electric-car ideal as to forget that the CARB’s ultimate mandate is to improve overall air quality, not just put ZEVs on the road.
I felt this tendency myself at that meeting back in January, when a GM spokesman proposed to trade a statewide diesel-school-bus emissions-cleanup program for the ZEV-car mandate. The entire board took immense offense, one member venting so much red-faced outrage that I expected him to declare, ”Sirrah, you are a poltroon!“ and challenge the poor GM rep to a duel. Just like one of those romantic Southern gentlemen of yore.
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