IE Environmentalists Skeptical Of SoCal Air Quality Board's Proposed Policy Changes
The Inland Empire is notorious for having some of the worst air quality in Southern California. The pollutants can cause asthma, lung disease, and heart problems. The Southern California Air Quality Management District (SCAMD) spoke about the changes that are in store for this region.
The SCAQMD encouraged local community involvement in policy changes and also wanted to openly discuss air quality in the Inland Empire. Among those invited, were several members of the Environmental Justice Community Partnership who participated in group discussions and held several firm opinions on the impacts of industry and pollution in this region.
Ericka Guiterrez, of the EJCP says as a local resident her perspective is shaped differently than that of the SCAQMD,.
"The true experts here are the residents, not agents or representatives who do not live in the area. Who do not live day to day with the environmental hazards and impacts that are constantly lived in my communities of color here."
Additionally, SCAQMD boared members like Larry McCallon, were optimistic about collaboration and hearing community input.
"I think they're great. Because we need to hear from the people. We need to also let them know what we're doing. Just having a dialogue and communicating with each other is very important rather than shouting at each other."
However positive McCallon is about community collaboration, others felt that the SCAQMD isn't as transparent as they hoped.
In the middle of protests and chants from several community members who promptly walked out on the SCAQMD's Q and A session after a spokesperson failed to answer their questions, EJCP leader, Penny Newman discussed the dangers of not listening or not adhering to this communities' needs.
"You know it really brought to the point that we are slowly dying from within, that our organs are being destroyed with every breathe we take. It's not a matter of moving away or not breathing, you know you have to. And there are thousand and thousands of people in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties who are going through the same thing."
Hours later, SCAQMD released their proposal, which depends on financial incentives and voluntary action. The proposal plan aims to reduce emissions from heavyweight trucks, ships, cars, aircraft, and trains. Time will determine whether or not inland residents will be satisfied with the Southern California Air Quality Management District's proposal to improve air quality.