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Examining The Effects Of Climate Change On Barrio Logan

Cars pass under the Barrio Logan sign on July 30, 2015.
Katie Schoolov
Cars pass under the Barrio Logan sign on July 30, 2015.

Examining The Effects Of Climate Change On Barrio Logan
Examining The Effects Of Climate Change On Barrio Logan GUEST:Diane Takvorian, member, California Air Resources Board

Science tells us that climate change will bring more very hot days come a drier conditions and a rising sea level to California. The impacts of that change will not be felt equally. The Environmental Health Coalition said older, low income communities of color will get hit hardest by the effects of the changing climate tonight, the California air resources Board will host a public workshop in Barrio Logan. I spoke with Diane Takvorian, Executive Director of the Environmental Health Coalition annually appointed environmental justice representative for the California air resources Board. Diane, welcome to the program. Thank you. Can you explain to us why you say communities like Barrio Logan are hit first and worst I climate change and air pollution? Yes. Definitely. Barrio Logan is in the top 5% of all of the communities in the state of California to have some of the worst toxic air pollution. And West National City, city Heights, El Cajon, parts of Escondido, all of this communities also share a high ranking, unfortunately in our county. And those communities and Barrio Logan, for instance, there is a great deal, 1 million pounds of greenhouse gases just from the port alone. About a quarter of that comes from the shipbuilding industry and from some of the other industrial uses there. there is what we call the stationary sources, something that comes out of a smokestack or an activity that is on the port. That there is also all the trucks and all of the vehicles that come through the community as a result of that industrial activity. The largest sector is transportation. 40% of all the greenhouse gases come from transportation. Here you have a community like others that is crisscrossed by freeways. All of this traffic comes as well. The third-largest category is energy generation. So, does California's landmark greenhouse gas distillation, AB 32, does that take this inequality into consideration? The bill itself, when it was adopted in 2006, said that the Air Resources Board should do that. Established and environmental justice advisory committee. Quite candidly, that committee and the attention to low income communities of color that are hit the hardest was not very good. I think it's improved considerably in the last several years and now there are two environmental justice representatives on the board and the environmental justice advisory committee itself is cosponsoring this workshop tonight. They are getting more attention and these issues are getting more attention. I think this workshop is evidence of that. I think it may be hard for some people to make the connection between climate change, which is happening to everyone, and this inequality when it comes to various neighborhoods being hit harder why these early stages of climate change. When I was reading for this interview, I read about old houses and lack of transportation and high rates of unemployment. How do they factor into the idea of a community being harder hit by climate change? Right. Great question. And I think we think about climate change as being this big, global problem. It is affecting all of us. It's huge. It something we need to pay attention to. We have communities that are very hard-hit by toxic air pollution, much of which is a contributor to climate change. So we have these two issues we've known for a long time and you and I have talked about this, the toxic air pollution in Barrio Logan and other low income communities of colors is very bad. We have three times the rate of asthma in Barrio Logan for the kids that lived there. so, that is the place where these things intersect. When we think about older housing, that housing does not have air conditioning. It is not well insulated. As the planet heats up, those houses heat up and there's not much relief. There is not a way those families can get cooler. So this seems to be something that needs to be taken into consideration by the city, the county in the state. Where does the information you will gather tonight -- where is that headed? That is headed to the state of California. The Air Resources Board is charged with implementing AB 32 which is the state climate change plan. Most of the rules that the city's need to abide by and are held by the Air Resources Board. Tonight we will have the opportunity for people in Barrio Logan and communities across San Diego that are most impacted to come forward and say what their issues are. What's it like to live in a community where you have housing that is older and not very comfortable? Are you don't have transportation available to you. Where you are suffering from these high rates of air pollution. We think it's important that people get the chance to raise their own voice and tell the state. The state will take that into consideration and be able to tell the industries and tell the cities and counties and groups like SANDAG. The government has set a target below 40% I 2030. If we don't meet those we are off by 150 million metric tons by 2030. Something much more aggressive needs to happen. This is the first ever public hearing of its kind by the Air Resources Board in Barrio Logan about this particular subject. What kind of participation are you expecting? We are hoping for big participation. We are hoping that folks throughout the community and throughout the county are able to attend and make their voices heard. It's going to be a very friendly environment. There will be tables where folks can talk about their issues. It will not be a formal hearing where you stand up to the podium which can be intimidating. And one thing I want to say is I think it's important for folks to be able to raise their voices. Often times, these are the folks that cannot get on a plane to go to Sacramento. May not know who their legislators are. I think it's great that the Air Resources Board is coming to the community. The city of San Diego and the Port of San Diego have climate action plans. I will ask you to put on your Environmental Health Coalition hat for a moment. Have these inequities been taking into consideration in these plans? The city of San Diego, late in the game, but they did add an equity component to their climate action plan. And essentially said that the communities that are hit first and worst need to be taken into consideration, the resources it should be pointed their first. We have not seen the implementation plan for that yet. There is no evidence of exactly how they will do that. At least the languages there. the Port of San Diego is thinking about this quite a bit. They have sustainable leasing program that is coming forward as a way for them to implement their climate action plan. We don't know yet but we are pushing hard for it to include environmental justice element in it. This being named and environmental justice representative for the Air Resources Board is quite an undertaking. It's quite a task to be given. How do you see your responsibility in this? Well, I'm really honored and I was really, very privileged to have been appointed by Speaker Atkins. I think the first thing I think about when I look at one of the rules, and I've been there almost 6 months, is how does this impact environmental justice communities? In my mind, that is my job. My job is to figure out how does it benefit environmental justice communities. How does it not benefit this communities? So when I come back to my communities I can say, here is what we did in Sacramento that will make your life better. Diane Takvorian, thank you so much. Thank you. The community meaning of the California air resources Board is tonight from 6:00 to 8:00 on the Cesar Chavez campus in Barrio Logan.

The California Air Resources Board is holding a public workshop Thursday in Barrio Logan to gather input on how residents are affected by climate change.

“These public workshops are an acknowledgement that our communities are hit first and worst by the harmful effects of climate change and air pollution,” Diane Takvorian, executive director of Environmental Health Coalition and member of the Air Resources Board, said in a statement. "It's critical that residents share their stories at this meeting and that policy makers in Sacramento hear their voices.”

Barrio Logan Public Workshop

When: Thursday, 6 p.m.-8 p.m.

Where: Cesar E. Chavez Campus, San Diego Continuing Education

The Air Resources Board is holding 15 workshops in low-income communities across California this month to inform the next update to the overarching document that will help the state meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals.

The California Global Warming Solutions Act, or AB 32, requires the state to curb greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

Takvorian discusses the unequal impacts of climate change on KPBS Midday Edition on Thursday.