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Sustaining our Clean Air Progress

As the federal government considers changes to environmental regulations which are eliciting both anticipation and trepidation, California signals it will continue to pursue its role as a leader in the efforts to address global climate change. This is good news for an overwhelming majority of Californians (81%) who view climate change as a very serious (54%) or somewhat serious (27%) threat to the state’s future economy and quality of life, according to a recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California.

Support for climate action is not limited to the public. As part of the Business Backs Low-Carbon USA initiative, over 900 entities have signed on to the statement, promoting the belief that the right actions now will create jobs and boost U.S. competitiveness. Local start-up company Sierra Energy is one of the signatories, as is Dignity Health, one of our region’s major health systems.

The good news for clean air progress is the fact that many policies and actions taken to address climate change provide positive co-benefits for air quality. Take for example the California Air Resources Board 2016 Mobile Source Strategy – a plan that demonstrates how the State can simultaneously meet air quality standards, achieve greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, and decrease health risk from transportation emissions over the next fifteen years. The Mobile Source Strategy will reduce smog forming emissions from cars, truck, and trains by 80% and will reduce diesel particulate matter (PM) emissions by 45%. Another example is the California Forest Carbon Plan which proposed fuel reduction and other treatments to improve forest health that will reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire. Smoke from wildfire produces enormous amounts of pollution in the form black carbon (or “soot”). The Rim Fire, which occurred near Yosemite in 2013 produced an amount of pollution equivalent to a year’s worth of cars on the road in Los Angeles.

Since 1986, the Cleaner Air Partnership has provided collaborative leadership that links one of the Sacramento Region’s largest business organizations (the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce) and one of its most influential health organization (Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails) in constructive dialogue and mutual action to work toward clean air standards (civic leadership organization Valley Vision joined the Partnership in 2005). For 30 years the Cleaner Air Partnership has worked collaboratively to help the Sacramento Region meet federal and state clean air standards. Why work together? The impacts of air pollution are not based on political or jurisdictional lines. Unclean air hurts all of us – our health, quality of life and economic vitality. Working toward cleaner air is not an easy task, and at times can be complex, but the Cleaner Air Partnership has found that by working together we can find win-win solutions that improve our region’s air quality and thereby protect health and advance economic growth.

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Tammy Cronin is a Valley Vision Project Leader for the Cleaner Air Partnership and the Connected Capital Area Broadband Consortium.

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