BY MARIO CONDE
The Joint Legislative Committee on Climate Change Policies and the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources held their meetings in the Imperial Valley learn more about the Salton Sea and local air quality.
In an effort the understand the situation of the Salton Sea, the monitoring of air quality monitoring and mitigation efforts in the region, Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia and Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) participated in the Imperial County Legislative Bus Tour on Friday, November 3rd. The tour started at 9 a.m. at Twin Dragon Restaurant at the Imperial Center and went to the Calexico Unified School District office where the attendees heard a presentation of the air monitor and how it is used.
Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia spoke about Assembly Bill 617 that expedites the pollution control retrofits on larger stationary sources of pollution and increases the penalties for air pollution control district violations. If implemented, this bill will require the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to prepare a statewide monitoring plan to identify the availability and effectiveness of air monitoring technologies as well as the need for additional community air monitoring systems by October 1, 2018, and every year thereafter; any air pollution control district with a high priority location identified by Air Resources Board must install additional community air systems by July 1, 2019, and every year thereafter.
AB617 requires the CARB to prepare a statewide strategy to reduce emissions of toxic air contaminants and criteria air pollutants in communities affected by high cumulative exposure to pollution.
“There is a lot of work that has already been done here in this area(Imperial Valley) and we have a lot of lessons to learn and thankfully we don’t have to be starting from scratch and we can learn from you as we implement AB 617,” Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia said.
Humberto Lugo, IVAN Air Network Technician from Comite Civico Del Valle in Brawley, said the state is seeing the usefulness of the data coming from the air monitors and it is helping AB 617 move forward. Lugo said that they want to work with the CARB so that the rest of the state can benefit from having air monitors and track pollution.
“Pollution has no borders. There is no fence blocking that pollution, and we want to look at our air monitor as a model for the rest of the state of California,” Lugo said.
The tour went to the Calexico West Land Port of Entry and to headquarters of Comite Civico Del Valle in Brawley before going to the Salton Sea.
Keali’i Bright, Deputy Secretary for Energy, California Natural Resources Agency said that the Salton Sea project has struggled to find a path to recovery since it was not the priority in the state. Bright said that now the state is looking at a way to find a sustainable way to restore the Salton Sea.
“We are working from the beginning of this administration and set a path since it’s a statewide concern and it’s the commitment of people like you that is building momentum to be able to achieve it (the restoration of the Salton Sea),” Bright said.
Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia said that the Salton Sea is a place that still has a lot of activity for fishing and competitions. He said that one of the biggest challenges up until some years ago was the lack of coordination and consensus and the lack of a unified voice towards the Salton Sea.
“Restoration of the Salton Sea is our number one priority and we will continue working with all of you to accomplish this,” Assemblyman Garcia noted.