Much of the credit goes to the powerful regional agency responsible for stricter rules and enforcing federal air quality standards over the last 19 years for the region’s 17 million people. Now that agency, the South Coast Air Quality Management District , is at the center of a political power struggle. my websiteA new industry-friendly Republican majority has worked to roll back the district’s innovative policies that led to cleaner air. That prompted concern among clean-air advocates and the poor and minority communities disproportionately affected by the region’s dirty air that the board would continue to erode pollution controls. So they are fighting back. They rallied behind a bill that awaits a decision this month by the state Assembly. It was passed by the Democratic-controlled state Senate and calls for adding three seats to the district’s 13-member board, to be filled by “a bona fide nonprofit environmental justice organization that advocates for clean air and pollution reductions.” “The system is broken and the board does not reflect the voice of the people who are suffering in their communities because they cannot get out of the trap and there is no one pushing for better conditions,” said Lizette Hernandez, a Southern California community organizer for the Sierra Club, which advocates on behalf of environmental justice issues. Above: South Coast Air Quality Management District Supervisor Shawn Nelson Board member Shawn Nelson, a Republican who had been in the minority since taking his seat on the board four years ago, called the bill a power grab by state Democratic lawmakers. It is a “kangaroo effort all to perpetuate this idea that this board is out of control, doesn’t care about clean air, which is completely ridiculous,” he said.
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