September 14, 2007
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Sacramento, CA 95814
RE: SB 719 (Machado) – Request for Signature
Dear Governor Schwarzenegger:
On behalf of the people of the San Joaquin Valley, I respectfully ask for your signature on SB 719 (Machado), a critical piece of air quality legislation for the San Joaquin Valley. SB 719 would expand the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District Board to include additional representation from urban areas, rural areas and health experts. This legislation will give more Valley communities a voice in decision-making about the air they breathe while strengthening the local air boardâ€™s scientific capacity.
The San Joaquin Valley faces one of the largest air quality challenges in the nation. Despite its vast size, open space, and low population density, air pollution is concentrated in the Valley environment. This results in high levels of exposure to harmful ozone and particulate matter. In turn, this excessive exposure is estimated to cost the region $3.2 billion annually due to the health costs from heart and lung diseases, as well as 1,200 premature deaths. While the regionâ€™s air quality has gradually improved, the rate of progress is painfully slow.
SB 719 will address the Valleyâ€™s air pollution burden in two ways:
First, it gives more Valley communities a voice on the local air board. The regionâ€™s major population centers will gain a level of representation commensurate with their populations, providing the largest cities in the region (Bakersfield, Fresno, Stockton, Visalia, and Modesto) with two rotating seats. Despite a population of nearly one-half million, Fresno went from 1992 until 2007 without a representative on the board. Mid-sized and smaller cities will also be better represented with three rotating seats, instead of two.
Second, the bill will strengthen the boardâ€™s scientific capacity. While the current air district staff has adequate technical capacity in modeling air pollution, developing control measures, and enforcement, it has no expertise in the field of air pollution and health. In addition, none of the board members are currently selected on the basis of their scientific knowledge in any field, despite the ongoing need to make judgments about complex scientific issues. In recognition of this need for scientific expertise, the California Air Resources Board (ARB) has at minimum two seats for scientific experts. Drawing off the success of ARBâ€™s approach, SB 719 provides a place for two health experts, a practicing physician and scientist with expertise in the health effects of air pollution.
SB 719 is a positive step forward for the Valleyâ€™s 3.7 million residents. As one of the poorest but most rapidly growing regions of the country, the Valley struggles daily with the need to balance economic opportunity with the protection of public health. By expanding community representation and enhancing the scientific capacity of the San Joaquin Valley Air District Board, SB 719 will help ensure this balance is appropriate.
Thank you for your continued support of clean air in the San Joaquin Valley. We hope to join you in a ceremony celebrating the signing of this important piece of legislation.
The Geeky Brit