SACRAMENTO, CA, Aug. 7, 2017 – Legislation allowing Air Quality Management District’s (AQMD’s) to immediately cease operations at facilities endangering the public today was signed by the Governor. The bill, AB 1132, was authored by Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D- Bell Gardens), Chair of the Assembly Natural Resources Committee.
“This is another step in the right direction towards environmental justice for communities that have long been forgotten,” said Assemblywoman Garcia. “California is providing yet another tool for local air districts to immediately cease toxic air pollution and protect communities, like mine, they are sworn to safeguard.”
A few weeks ago, the Governor also signed into law AB 617, Assemblywoman Garcia’s bill that mandates strict air quality pollution standards and further advanced California’s historic climate change plans.
Existing law regulates the emission of air pollutants and authorizes the regional AQMD’s and air pollution control districts to enforce those requirements. The law also allows the governing boards and the hearing boards of those AQMD’s to issue an order for abatement, but only after notice is provided and a hearing is held which can take months while the harmful pollution continues.
During the last five years, with authority to immediately cease pollution operations as proposed in this bill, scenarios like Hixson Metal Finishing in Newport Beach, Anaplex Corporation in the City of Paramount, Exide Technologies in Vernon and Ridgeline Energy Services in Santa Fe Springs, would have been ceased immediately upon detection. Industries most likely to create a threat consist of those who emit lead or toxic air contaminants such as hexavalent chromium, cadmium, arsenic, asbestos, and hydrogen sulfide as well as other harmful pollutants.
“When it’s determined an operator is polluting a community at toxic levels, immediate action is necessary to protect the public,” added Garcia. “One day is a day too long to knowingly allow it to continue.”
Assembly Bill 1132 will allow AQMD’s to issue temporary orders and cease those operations that are in violation of either federal or state air quality requirements through a notification to the violator outlining a pending hearing within a set timeframe and process. The order could be rescinded prior to the hearing, which must be set within 15 days of the abatement notification and be held no more than 30 days from issuance, if the accused operator can demonstrate the endangerment situation no longer exists and has been permanently corrected.
The law will now become effective January 1, 2018.