The following was originally written and published for Nevada County residents but applies, in large part, to every county Logue and McClintock represent. Republished with the approval of the author.
Why are our elected representatives attacking our health in Nevada County? This is probably the first question you have to ask yourself to understand why our Assemblyman, Dan Logue, and our Congressman, Tom McClintock, are behind the fight against California’s Assembly Bill 32 (passed in 2006). Assembly Bill 32, signed by Governor Schwarzenegger, is a major initiative by the Air Resources Board for reducing California’s greenhouse gasses by 30% to 1990 levels by 2020 and 80% below that by 2050. Make no mistake about it; AB 32 is landmark clean air legislation that will soon make a big difference in the air we breathe in Nevada County.
To fight this good legislation, Logue and McClintock tried to launch an initiative against it by calling it a “jobs” bill but were stopped from this title by Attorney General Jerry Brown, who made it very clear that it was a “pollution bill.” (Although there is no real proof that jobs will be lost under AB32, it is clearly understood that jobs will be created in the new “green” industries that will be generated by the new law.) Unfortunately, the initiative process supported by Logue and McClintock to kill or stymie the 2006 clean energy and air pollution law is continuing. Dan Logue claimed no knowledge of funding for the initiative but it is now known that the Valero Energy Corporation and the Tesoro Energy Corporation, both headquartered in Texas, are behind Logue and McClintock’s attempt. Valero and Tesoro are the major contributors to the initiative and have donated large sums of money to their efforts. And, supposedly by trying to keep the donations secret, they may have violated state campaign laws.
Nevada County’s air is directly affected by the pollution from the refineries and automobiles in the bay area. (Valero owns refineries in Benicia, while Tesoro runs plants in Martinez. Valero and Tesoro represent some of the heaviest carbon emissions operators in the state.) Once the pollution is transported from the bay area by wind to our foothills where it gets “stuck” against the tall mountains, it gets transformed into ground-level ozone by UV radiation (the sun).
The American Lung Association in its’ 2007 State of the Air Report concluded that Western Nevada County is the 13th most ozone polluted county and the 1st most ozone polluted rural county in the United States.
Ozone pollution in Nevada County is significantly worse than in areas commonly associated with air pollution, including New York City; Chicago, Illinois; Washington, DC; Las Vegas, Nevada; and many other US cities.
Ozone is completely invisible and undetectable without monitoring equipment. Nevada County’s rates of childhood asthma are higher than the overall state average. Besides ozone being the cause of difficulty in breathing, wheezing, and exhaustion for adults, long term exposure can have permanent health effects including accelerated aging of the lungs, loss of lung capacity, decreased lung function, development of respiratory diseases and premature mortality. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, it only takes a 10 parts per billion increase in ozone to increase the rate of death by 2.9% to 4%.
It is now quite obvious that our representatives for Nevada County do not represent our best interest. Instead, they have attacked the very air we breathe and our very health to support big oil.
Assemblyman Logue and Congressman McClintock’s apparent need to support and protect these corporate polluters is sacrificing the very health of their own constituents in Nevada County.
We must replace Logue and McClintock! We must fight this initiative.
Kent W. Clark has lived in Nevada County since 1999 and is the Representative for District 2 on the Nevada County Democratic Central Committee.