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Latino groups push Obama on ozone standards

La smog On the heels of a scathing critique by former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt on Wednesday, President Obama faced pressure from a burgeoning environmental justice coalition demanding stronger action on ozone, a component of smog, in predominantly Latino communities.

Fourteen groups sent a letter to Obama expressing dismay at missed opportunities and delays in bringing permissible ozone levels down to between 60 and 70 parts per billion:

The EPA estimates that the strongest standard of 60 parts per billion would avoid as many as 12,000 deaths and 58,000 asthma attacks per year. Implementing a weaker standard would mean more lives lost and more asthma attacks –- costs that Latinos would disproportionately bear.

The Latino community has faced many challenges over the past few years. We’ve seen missed opportunities, delays and more. With lives at stake, we hope that we won’t see yet another burden if polluting industries succeed in blocking EPA’s efforts to protect us from smog.

This is a chance to fix a costly mistake by the Bush administration, which in 2008 disregarded science and set smog standards too high to adequately protect public health. This issue is too important to have mistakes like this repeated.

EPA announced proposed ozone standards of 60-70 ppb in January 2010, but delayed implementing them and in December, said it would submit the issue to a scientific advisory panel. That panel since has endorsed the lower limits. The agency is slated to establish new standards in July.

The George W. Bush administration had lowered the limit from 85 to 75 ppb. No urban area of California meets even the 1997 federal standard of 80 ppb. If states fail to meet federal standards, the government can withhold highway funding.

The Latino groups that signed the letter, from California, Texas and other states, are part of a growing environmental movement centered around some of the nation's most polluted urban areas. Signatories included the Comite del Valle from Brawley, in California's Central Valley, and the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California.

Groups such as East Yard Communities in Los Angeles have been pushing for help with unhealthful air in their working-class neighborhoods, surrounded by freeways and large rail yards.

In San Bernardino, air pollution authorities on Wednesday announced a major study of communities around large rail facilities that serve as a main inland hub of goods shipped across the U.S. The study will examine rates of cancer and asthma in those low-income communities.

The study comes two years after the California Air Resources Board determined that diesel emissions from locomotives, big rigs and other equipment at the facility posed a significant health risk to thousands of residents living near the site, and that the facility posed the greatest cancer risk of any rail yard in California.

Related:

EPA proposes nation's strictest smog limits ever

San Bernardino rail yard communities targeted for health study

EPA's 'environmental justice' tour comes to California

-- Geoff Mohan

Photo: The Los Angeles skyline on a smoggy day in 2009. Credit: Nick Ut/Associated Press

 
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East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice: a paid staff of four and 200 members who join for $5 a year.
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Why is this a news story?

si a la Diversidad! C:

This is misleading (as the enviro groups usually are). The only areas in the South Coast Air Basin not meeting the federal ozone standard are centered around Crestline in the San Bernadino Mountains and the Santa Clarita Valley. These are hardly hotbeds of the latino community.

I am happy to see that groups in the Southwest are pushing our President to do more to secure the health and the environment of our people and country. It is shameful to see that nearly 20 years later major cities are not meeting air quality standards.
As for the American community. Let me remind you that America..is really two continents, and that the American community is found anywhere from Canada to the Southern tip of Chile. Geography 101.
Also...this "multicultural pandering" you talk about is really the result of neoliberal capitalism. You know, where U.S. corporations take over rural lands in South & Central America and Mexico to construct and operate factory-farms or Maquiladoras that mass produce the food you eat and the toys you buy, forcing millions of families out of their homes, and onto the dangerous travel up north to the U.S. where they are met with hateful people like you and Mr. Happy Jack.

Since when did LAT become a white supremasist' forum? Yikes. Nasty stuff.

FYI: Latinos make up 17% of the population. That's a big MINORITY entitled to protect their basic rights.

@Jack: clean air is for everyone, so you should be grateful people want to clean up the air you and your family breathe so you wont get asthma, or a heart attack, or your kids wont be born with autism. Are you really reading the Times or just dropping in to fill the world with hate? LAT is great about reporting the health effects of air pollution. Read up.

what happened to the AMERICAN community......??????? Latinos and Hispanics are now more than 50% of the nation's population. At what point does the multi-cultural pandering stop?

Latino groups complaining about the pollution here. Gimme a break, in Texas they tried to do what they do in Mexico and that is that if your car is so many years old you are only allowed to drive it on certain days depending on the plate number. Yeah that went over real big, the government telling the American people you can drive your car on a certain day or go buy a new one. If the Latino's are so concerned tell them to go home and worry about their own countries pollution which by the way is floating up to our airspace.


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