Celebrating Greene: Our Air Quality Champion
Larry Greene, soon to retire executive director of the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District (SMAQMD) was recently honored individually by Breathe California-Sacramento and the Sacramento Metro Chamber, founding partners of the Cleaner Air Partnership.
On May 2, during the culminating event of the Metro Chamber’s 47th annual Cap-to-Cap federal advocacy program, Peter Tateishi, president and CEO of the Metro Chamber, delivered remarks in celebration of Greene’s 22-years of leadership to our region. Tateishi noted that Greene has been a remarkable “educator, leader, mentor and coalition-builder” throughout his time of service in Sacramento. “I’m proud to call him a friend,” continued Tateishi. Following Tateishi’s remarks, Greene received a spontaneous standing ovation from the 350-plus Cap-to-Cap delegates who were present at the event.
“This may be the first time a Chamber of Commerce celebrates an air quality regulator,” Tateishi said. Greene’s legacy of service includes 20-years of participation in the Cap-to-Cap federal advocacy program, where he has fostered cross-sector collaboration and problem solving on issues related to air quality and climate change.
In a separate event on May 11, known as Breathe Fest, Larry Greene received a Breathe California Clean Air Champion Legacy Award. The award, presented by Sacramento City Council Member Steve Hansen, recognizes Greene’s exceptional dedication to improving air quality in the Sacramento region. As executive director of the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District, and prior service as executive director of the Yolo-Solano Air Quality Management District, Larry has served as both air quality regulator, champion and partnership builder in pursuit of improving air quality.
Greene twice served as president of the California Air Pollution Control Officers Association (CAPCOA) and as co-president of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies (NACAA). Although his many contributions are too numerous to count, one demonstration of his exceptional leadership is his relentless pursuit of bringing people of different perspectives together to work on common solutions to air quality problems. Larry has won numerous awards and accolades in his career as an air pollution control officer, and has been the driving force in the many air-improving programs supported and implemented by the air district staff, including collaborative work to support local jurisdictions with toxic air contaminants, assessments of air quality impacts and benefits for infill and greenfield development, tools for residential developers to assess diesel fuel emissions, and the Spare The Air and Check Before You Burn campaigns.
Prior to his career in air quality, Greene served 25-years in the U.S. Army. In his time in Sacramento, Larry has actively engaged the business community, elected officials and community based organizations to collaboratively participate in solving the region’s air quality challenges. Since 1990, the region has seen a 66% reduction in nitrogen oxides, a component of smog, or ground-level ozone. Rather than fighting the regulatory regime, the business community in the region has responded by serving as a partner, joining air quality regulators, elected officials and community-based organizations in advocating for cost-effective incentive-based solutions that assist businesses in supporting air quality goals.
As we celebrate Larry’s well-deserved retirement, we look forward to continuing his legacy of leadership. Continued collaboration and collective problem-solving will be required to help our region meet state and federal health-base air quality standards.
Tammy Cronin is a Valley Vision Project Leader working in the clean air, broadband and clean economy portfolios.