New California law gives air quality officials the power to quickly shut down polluters.

September 1, 2017

Local California air quality officials are gaining new powers to quickly stop polluters when they endanger people’s health under legislation signed by California Governor Jerry Brown on August 7, 2017 according to a Los Angeles Times report.

The law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, follows years of frustration in Los Angeles Basin communities such as Paramount, Boyle Heights and Maywood — where regulators have struggled to stop highly polluting operations after discovering hot spots of Chromium-6, lead and other dangerous pollutants.

Currently, air regulators seeking orders to curtail operations that violate rules and threaten public health must go through an administrative hearing board. The process can take months, while the pollution continues unabated.

As a result, residents “were being told: ‘You are in grave danger, but we can’t do anything about it,’ ” said Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), who wrote the legislation. “What we’re saying today is that when we have imminent health threats, that trumps the right to do business,” Garcia said.

The new law will give pollution control officers the power to issue immediate orders to stop polluting operations when violations pose an “imminent and substantial” danger. The orders are temporary, pending a hearing before an administrative board.

South Coast Air Quality Management District Executive Officer Wayne Nastri welcomed the legislation as “an important new tool to protect public health.”

The district, which sponsored the legislation, has pointed to five recent cases where inadequate enforcement authority prevented it from taking swift action to stop a facility’s harmful emissions.

What this means to you
Local California air quality officials are gaining new powers to quickly stop polluters when they endanger people’s health under legislation signed by California Governor Jerry Brown on August 7, 2017.

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