Protecting public health and the well being of our communities is a goal
that is dear to my heart. And, like other lawmakers, I seek to approach my
bill ideas with clarity and objectivity.
But in the case of diesel emissions, I am on a mission to raise public
awareness of a proven health threat–and hammer out solutions to help clean
As a long-time resident of Long Beach, home to one of the nation’s busiest
ports, I know daily exposure to diesel exhaust from airports, seaports,
trucks and trains can create negative long-term health effects.
It cannot be proven that more than 30 years of inhaling these toxic fumes
caused me to get cancer. But countless studies have shown that diesel
particulates lodged deep within our lungs cause numerous negative health
particulate as a toxic air contaminant.
diesel sources suffer an elevated risk of asthma and other respiratory
Protection Agency and Business, Transportation and Housing Agency concluded
that, “The greatest health impacts from exposure to diesel (particulate
matter) occurs in areas” adjacent to diesel-emission sources.
In short, we are poisoning our neighbors, our parents, our children and our
More ominously, little relief is in sight. Port traffic could triple during
the next 20 years. The fact is, any solution must mean we can only
accommodate growth if we cut congestion and pollution. This would improve
air quality and ease traffic congestion while creating jobs and improving
How state leaders manage expected growth is a primary concern as voters
consider fall ballot propositions to protect Proposition 42, which earmarks
gas taxes for transportation projects but was often suspended, and provide
almost $20 billion for transportation improvements.
If approved, California would embark on a new era–one that reverses years of
neglect and underinvestment in highway and transit systems.
At the same time, however, we must also address the serious health issue
increasingly raised by diesel exhaust.
Assembly Bill 1101, which I have been pushing for two years, would help do
AB 1101, the Diesel Magnet Sources bill, attacks the issue by targeting key
producers, such as diesel trucks, railroad locomotives, marine vessels and
other types of diesel-powered equipment.
This measure targets diesel emissions from large seaports, airports and rail
yards by requiring these sources to follow the same standards currently
required for oil refineries, factories and other stationary origins.
AB 1101, which is scheduled to be reviewed by the Senate Appropriations
Committee on August 7, also would require these facilities to work with
local air districts to prepare inventories of emissions, determine the
potential risk to surrounding communities, notify communities that are
potentially at risk and develop a reasonable plan to reduce exposure over
If signed into law, AB 1101 would be another advancement to get California
in full compliance with federal clean-air standards and to make our air
cleaner to breathe.
Those who oppose the bill often call it a “job killer.” Please understand
that I am not trying to put the burden on businesses and organizations. This
bill is about saving lives by protecting Californians from potentially
deadly diseases. There is no conflict between public health and a strong
Indeed, one cannot exist without the other.
But if we dramatically increase transportation expenditures, and it is
essential that we do, we must move thoughtfully to protect public health.
To act otherwise would squander a historic opportunity to improve both the
economy and the environment. The economic health of our state, the
efficiency of our transportation system and the physical health of our
residents may depend on how well we do.