Assemblymember Reyes Holds Select Committee on Environmental Quality and the Green Economy in the Inland Empire
San Bernardino – Yesterday, Assemblymember Eloise Gómez Reyes (D- San Bernardino) held a hearing of the Select Committee on Environmental Quality and the Green Economy in the Inland Empire at the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors Chambers in San Bernardino. A key component of the hearing was centered on how the Inland Empire can embrace the transition towards renewable energy and the green economy while harnessing the tangible benefits of this movement such as well-paying jobs.
The Select Committee was created to “… focus on enhancing and expanding the green economy in the Inland Empire, especially in underserved communities. By ensuring a clear understanding of the green economy as well as the needs of the Inland Empire, we will begin to take steps toward improving environmental quality and ensuring economic growth.”
“Residents in the Inland Empire are at a considerably higher risk for health issues related to different forms of pollution,” said Assemblymember Reyes. “In 2014, San Bernardino had 76 days that violated the federal standard for ozone, a lung-damaging ingredient in smog. Riverside had 69 and Fontana had 52. This is just a fraction of the problem and ultimately is something we must aim to fix. Where someone lives should not have an impact on their ability to breathe clean air, drink clean water, or live free of other forms of toxic pollution.”
The Inland Empire has long been referred to as one of the most polluted regions in the nation as a host of man-made factors like being the transportation hub for goods on the West Coast as well as natural conditions such as wind patterns and the locations of mountain ranges have contributed to much higher than normal particulate and pollution levels that have an adverse effect on health.
Speakers for the Committee came from various environmental and economic backgrounds and included:
Josh Candelaria, Director of Governmental Relations, County of San Bernardino
Corie Goldman, Advocacy Director, American Lung Association
Philip M. Fine Ph.D., Deputy Executive Officer of Panning, Rule Development & Area Sources, South Coast Air Quality Management District
Penny Newman, Executive Director, Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice
Tim O’Connor, Director for California Legislative and Regulatory Affairs, Environmental Defense Fund
Gladys Limón, Executive Director, California Environmental Justice Alliance
Ching Liu, Executive Vice President, SolarMax
Jack Kitowski, Division Chief for the Mobile Source Control Division, California Air Resources Board
Nicole Davis, Deputy Director, University of California Riverside Center for Environmental Research and Technology
After speaker testimony and public comment, Assemblymember Reyes wrapped up by saying, “The goal of this initial hearing today is to touch on these topics and push our community forward. I would like to emphasize that I hope this is the beginning of a long term dialogue which will include participation of all sectors with a stake in environmental quality and economic growth. I welcome them all to participate in this dialogue and take actionable steps to contribute to a higher quality of life for all residents of the Inland Empire.”
Assemblymember Reyes has made advances on this front in her first year in the legislature such as authoring a bill signed into law by Governor Brown, AB 523, the Equity in Clean Energy Investments Act. The bill would dedicate at least 25% of available Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) funds for clean energy projects in disadvantaged communities, and an additional 10% in low-income households for which the vast majority of the Inland Empire qualifies.
She also co-authored a bill by Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D- Bell Gardens) that will require the State Air Resources Board to develop a uniform statewide system of annual reporting of emissions of criteria air pollutants and toxic air contaminants for use by certain categories of stationary sources. The bill would also require those stationary sources to report their annual emissions of criteria air pollutants and toxic air contaminants.
Assemblymember Eloise Gómez Reyes represents Assembly District 47 which includes the cities of Fontana, Rialto, Colton, Grand Terrace, San Bernardino and the unincorporated areas of Muscoy and Bloomington.