The promises of better jobs and improved living are not coming to fruition for working class San Bernardino residents. Instead, we have a precarious situation where thousands of warehouse workers are living at the poverty line and struggling to breathe.
Families, whose homes sit near freeways, railyards, and warehouses, are exposed to some of the worst air quality in the nation. And sadly, very little has been done locally to address this concern.
Fortunately, we now have the chance to make decisions at a community level to improve our community’s air and address the root of the problem—indirect sources. AB 617’s passage in 2017 has required the South Coast Air Quality Management District to identify pollution sources and implement emission reduction plans to curtail health and safety impacts, while continuing air monitoring efforts to gauge the current levels of pollution. Our community understands the importance of air monitors. However, the state of our social and natural environment requires us to act swiftly to build on the momentum we already have.
After many years of advocacy, SCAQMD was convinced that it needed to create a rule-making process to closely look at the indirect sources of pollution at facilities. AB 617 provides us with a great opportunity to begin the work of creating a rule that prioritizes the people being mostly affected.
As warehouses continue to encroach on our land, more dangerous diesel particulate matter permeates the air. Residents like myself have been empowered to be a part of the AB 617 committee because we see a future beyond diesel. Band aid solutions presented by industry cannot be the priority anymore.
We can’t afford to continue to waste time on programs that stall progress. In order for AB 617 to be effective, air regulators must demonstrate through vigorous control of emissions that it means business when it comes to cleaning up our air.
By Miguel Rivera
Muscoy resident, member of AB617 Steering Committee