skip to main content

Listen

Read

Watch

Schedules

Programs

Events

Give

Account

Donation Heart Ribbon

Schwarzenegger Proposes to Eliminate Environmental Agency

Audio

Aired 6/2/09

A California state agency that researches the environmental hazards of toxic chemicals could be eliminated. KPBS Environment Reporter Ed Joyce says Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to shut down the department as part of the effort to reduce the state's $24 billion budget deficit.

Video
Video unavailable. Read transcript below.

Above: What are school districts and cities to do as the state's financial crisis shrinks their budgets? Gloria Penner, host of San Diego Week, asks local editors.

A California state agency that researches the environmental hazards of toxic chemicals could be eliminated. KPBS Environment Reporter Ed Joyce says Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to shut down the department as part of the effort to reduce the state's $24 billion budget deficit.

It's called the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.

Its scientists are charged with protecting people from toxic chemical exposure.

They study the chemicals in our air and drinking water.

Many of the warning labels on products sold or used in the state are a result of the group's research.

Dr. Gina Solomon is a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

She says closing the office to save $6.5 million in taxpayer money isn't necessary.

Solomon says fees could easily support the office.

"There's a fee that's already collected from water utilities that's supposed to be used to regulate drinking water quality," Solomon says. "Although this office does all of the assessments that sets limits for contaminants in drinking water, it doesn't get a penny of these fees."

Solomon says moving the scientists to a department within the state Environmental Protection Agency would compromise their independence.

"They would be under the thumb of the policymakers and the political appointees," Solomon says. "That's an unwise decision in terms of really making good decisions that will benefit public health and the environment."

She says scientists along with environmental and health organizations have sent the Governor a letter urging him not to eliminate the agency.

Ed Joyce, KPBS News.

Comments

Avatar for user 'davehalo'

davehalo | June 2, 2009 at 11:39 a.m. ― 5 years, 6 months ago

here comes the special interest groups....like predators on a dying animal....the liberals and conservatives have broken this state with their continuous voter propositions and inability to carry on any type of rational conversation or negotiation. it's time to clean house and the only way to do it will be to pass the open primary measure this fall.....new districts that have no 'safe' seats and open primaries will allow voters to finally take control. maybe revamp the whole proposition process as well....no more collecting signatures of 8% of the voters in the last gubernatorial election to put a constitutional ballot measure to the voters and then only need 50.0000000000001% of the voters to approve it. A constitution is supposed to mean something. No more propositions ham stringing our elected officials from creating a budget. AND maybe Prop 13 will finally be tackled. Even socialist countries like the Netherlands pay less in taxes overall when you consider the benefits they get from their government. What do I as a middle class tax payer get from california?

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'pismobill'

pismobill | June 2, 2009 at 1:30 p.m. ― 5 years, 6 months ago

It's Arnold's way of overracting to the last ballot measure that he supported

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'graceonline'

graceonline | June 6, 2009 at 2:56 p.m. ― 5 years, 6 months ago

I would appreciate more information about the reasons moving this unit to the Environmental Protection Agency is bad. Solomon implies the EPA is politically motivated, which I can understand given what the Bush administration did to the federal EPA, but I would like more facts on that, please.

Also, how is the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment independent and not subject to similar political manipulations? Where do the collected fees go, since they are not supporting the work of this office? What is their $$ figure? Where would the agencies currently using those fees get their funding if they were transferred to OEHHA?

I sincerely hope you can answer these questions.

( | suggest removal )