Serving on two powerful air-quality boards., L.A. Marathon founder William Burke sets a fast pace. But it just might be when he crosses the finish line, the public — and clean air — are the big losers.
The agency backed off on rule-making and its push for renewable energy, and unwittingly set the stage for deterioration in air quality just as it had final victory in the 50-year-old war against smog within its sight. The all-time cleanest year on record in the Los Angeles region was 2001, with 36 days above the federal health standard for ozone; in 2003, 68 such unhealthful days. Growth will continue and traffic will become more congested, worsening pollution.
And what of environmental justice? Some progress can be noted, but just as with regional smog, the outlook remains hazy. Truck traffic at the ports is expected to grow from some 35,000 trucks a day to 90,000 over the decade or so ahead. Airline traffic will grow, as will the region’s need for landfill space.
Unless environmental regulators constantly press ahead, environmental justice, like smog-free air, will not occur in our generation. While we wait, another generation will grow up under the assault of pollution and risk becoming prematurely memorialized by empty chairs placed by their colleagues and loved ones in their own communities.