For World Asthma Day 2019, I challenge leaders to push zero emission solutions that prioritizes community health first

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An Op-Ed by Ana Gonzalez, CCAEJ Board Member and a member of the South Coast Air Quality Management District Youth Advisory Committee

I learned a few weeks ago that my 13-year-old son developed bronchitis and could also be asthmatic. It was heartbreaking to hear.

When I heard that Riverside and San Bernardino Counties were ranked once again by the American Lung Association as having the worst air quality in the nation, it couldn’t have been any clearer where my son’s coughing and wheezing stems from.

In recent years, the Inland Empire has been notorious for its string of bad ozone days. What’s helped contribute to this problem? Our region’s fascination with the logistics industry. Developers and City Councils are transforming neighborhoods to industrial parks to serve the goods movement–bringing with them dirty fossil fuels like gas and diesel that emit nitrogen oxide, volatile organic compounds, and particulate matter.

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It’s the worst feeling in the world as a parent to see your child struggle to catch a breath, and much worse when you learn that their respiration could worsen as time progresses. My neighborhood in Rialto will soon welcome a new warehouse and hundreds of trucks, despite many statements of disapproval from residents.

Like a silent epidemic, smog continues to hurt our community’s health, and leaders carry on with their complacent attitudes about our poor air.

But it shouldn’t be that way.

In fact, our air regulators and leaders have an opportunity to substantially improve our air quality and health by supporting strong rules to regulate the movement of trucks coming from the ports to warehouses and railyards. Agencies like the South Coast Air Quality region can work with community leaders to provide cleaner air for us.  

The Indirect Source Rule is one of these important regulations that will keep warehouses, railyards and ports accountable for the pollution they attract. The Inland Empire is home to over 1 billion square feet of warehouse space and attracts hundreds of thousands of diesel trucks from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to communities like Bloomington and Fontana. Over 40 percent of goods entering the U.S. end up traveling through our neighborhoods.This rule making process is a solution for the Inland Empire to help balance good business and a clean environment.

The value of implementing stronger regulations goes beyond holding polluters accountable for the mess they’ve created. These rules can also promote using state-of-the-art zero emission technology, building up our electric infrastructure and require the facilities that attract diesel and gas particulate matter in areas close to our neighborhoods transform the movement of goods, while giving people good employment and health we all need.

My son and all children across the Inland Empire deserve better from our cities and state governments. We cannot allow for more generations of children to continue breathing in the worst air in the nation. For World Asthma Day 2019, I challenge leaders to be bold and push for zero emission solutions that will place our respiratory health and progress first.

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