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EPA chief: How’s California doing?

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson gave her opinion of California’s progress on environmental health in a recent Los Angeles Times article.  So how’s the golden state doing? 

According to Jackson, a waiver to enforce tougher emissions standards in California caught the attention of President Obama, who directed the EPA to consider granting the waiver. Additionally the President called for his ‘clean car deal’ - higher federal emissions standards he hopes to introduce in 2017.  Jackson believes California played a key role in the “revitalization of the car industry” by setting the standard that many car manufactures now follow in producing a better class of fuel-sippers.

California has also been a leader in setting emissions control standards for ships as well as vehicles. Today, ships as far as 200 nautical miles from America’s coastline must switch to low-sulphur fuel, a change that is being looked at as an international model.

Los Angeles in particular has done a lot of work to raise awareness about pollution and transportation corridors, such as the 710 freeway that conveys thousands of trucks out of the Port of Long Beach each year and down a highway that cuts through residential (and largely disadvantaged) neighborhoods. “The big sources of air pollution in our country are power plants and the way we get around, the way we move goods,” Jackson said in the interview.

While we’ve made some amazing strides, there is still work to be done. For example, community members in the California towns of Kettleman City and Buttonwillow filed a law suit with the EPA claiming they failed to address the link between the toxic waste dumps near the residential homes and the possible connection to the communities’ high number of miscarriages and birth defects. The claims made by the residents and others have resulted in a backlog of complaints. Jackson said the EPA is responding to the law suit by talking with community members to discuss possible solutions, as well as looking at implementing new standards.

How well is California protecting the environment, in your opinion? 


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