Target: Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina
Goal: Praise county for standing up to big polluters when the state refuses to act
Known in part for its smoggy skies, Los Angeles has also long been ahead of the curve in battling air pollution. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors created the nation’s first air pollution control program in 1947. Such programs have seen remarkable success, but chronic polluters still taint the city’s air, soil, and waterways. The Board of Supervisors has again stepped up to the challenge, recently voting to create a “Toxic Threat Strike Team” to tackle the public health menace while the State of California drags its feet.
At least one factory is already in the Strike Team’s cross-hairs. The Exide battery recycling plant in Vernon was temporarily closed amid concerns of lead and arsenic pollution, according to the Long Beach Press Telegram. Health officials have warned parents not to let children play in nearby neighborhoods’ contaminated soil. The state has often been slow to act in reigning in dangerous polluters, and county officials felt compelled to take matters into their own hands.
County Supervisor Gloria Molina initiated the move, explaining her rationale in the official motion: “We cannot remain passive and silent in the wake of state inaction or ineffectiveness. The health of our communities cannot wait.” Praise Molina and her colleagues for standing up for the health and well-being of Los Angeles County residents.
Dear Ms. Molina,
Your constituents can breathe a little easier thanks to the Toxic Threat Strike Team called for by you and your colleagues. As explained by Patty Bilgin of the City Attorney’s Environmental Justice unit, poor communities and communities of color are often the worst affected by pollution, and too often the state of California has failed to act on their behalf. To see the Board of Supervisors vote unanimously to create this task force demonstrates your commitment to all county residents.
The work ahead for the Strike Team will be challenging, with goals that range from closing the Exide battery recycling plant to identifying the “most burdened” communities and the threats facing each. Your commitment to addressing chronic polluters has already drawn praise. Ramya Sivasubramania, speaking on behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Council, called the Strike Team a “tool to protect public health and the environment in overburdened communities.”
The Strike Team can and should become a necessary protection for all citizens of Los Angeles County while addressing threats that face the most marginalized among them. Thank you for initiating the call to action on this important matter.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Charles O’Rear via U.S. National Archives and Records Administration