ORANGE COUNTY – September 5, 2017 – Today, a coalition of Orange County community and environmental groups are calling on the area’s legislators to support a package of bills designed to protect the region’s workers, water and air from federal attempts to weaken public health and environmental safeguards. The Preserve California package of bills cleared its last legislative committee last week and will be voted on by the full Assembly within the next two weeks.
Orange County Coastkeeper, the Sierra Club, the Endangered Habitats League and more than 150 business leaders call on Assemblymembers Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton), Phillip Chen (R-Diamond Bar), Steven Choi (R-Irvine), Tom Daly (D-Anaheim), Matthew Harper (R-Huntington Beach), Bill Brough (R-Dana Point), and Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) to support the “Preserve California” package pending in the state legislature. The following regional leaders offer their comments:
Orange County Coastkeeper Executive Director Garry Brown: “In 1999, Orange County suffered more than 1,300 closed and posted beaches and Huntington Beach was closed for the entire summer due to pollution harmful to human health. For the past 18 years, Coastkeeper has worked with agencies to nearly eliminate beach closures, drastically reduce trash from our waterways and improve water quality. We need to ensure that, no matter what the Trump administration does, our communities won’t lose the protection of landmark laws like the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts and the Safe Drinking Water Act. Building support for these bills is our top priority for the remainder of the legislative session.”
Endangered Habitats League Executive Director Dan Silver: “We must protect California’s extraordinary biodiversity – starting with our endangered species. With these bills, crucial programs to support our wildlife and habitats will continue under state law, even if federal protections are unwisely removed.”
Sierra Club’s Angeles Chapter Chair Sharon Koch: “The Preserve California package is critical to preserving California’s open space for present and future generations. The Public Lands Protection Act will fight all federal attempts to eliminate or reduce our national monuments within state lines, in order to protect the unique natural resources that belong to all of us.”
The Preserve California package includes the following state bills:
- Senate Bill 49, the California Environmental Defense Act, makes current federal clean air, climate, clean water, worker safety and endangered species standards enforceable under state law, even if the federal government rolls back those standards. It also directs state environmental, public health and worker safety agencies to take all actions within their authorities to ensure existing standards are enforced.
- Senate Bill 50, The Public Lands Protection Act, establishes a new state policy to discourage conveyances of federal lands to private developers for resource extraction. It directs the State Lands Commission, which oversees much of California’s federal lands, to establish a right of first refusal by the state of any federal lands proposed for sale or conveyance to other parties. It also ensures that the state reviews any transactions involving federal lands in California to ensure those lands are protected by state action.
- Senate Bill 51, the Whistleblower and Public Data Protection Act, would ensure scientists, engineers and other professionals do not lose state licensure for revealing violations of environmental laws, unethical actions or dangers to public health and safety. It also would direct state environmental and public health agencies to protect any information or data under state law, even if parties in Washington D.C. order their censorship or destruction.
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ORANGE COUNTY COASTKEEPER: Founded in 1999, the mission of Coastkeeper is to protect and promote sustainable water resources that are swimmable, drinkable, fishable and sustainable. Coastkeeper is a nonprofit clean water organization that serves as a proactive steward of our fresh- and saltwater ecosystems. We work collaboratively with diverse groups in the public and private sectors to achieve healthy, accessible, and sustainable water resources for the region. We implement innovative, effective programs in education, advocacy, restoration, research, enforcement, and conservation. For more information, visit www.coastkeeper.org.
ENDANGERED HABITATS LEAGUE: The Endangered Habitats League is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to ecosystem protection and sustainable land use. Southern California is home to an unsurpassed natural heritage, and our staff of seasoned professionals works in a variety of ways to protect this legacy. Through participation in community and regional planning processes, and collaboration with other stakeholders, we work to develop solutions that that serve the needs of all area residents and preserve our native landscapes. For more information, visit www.ehleague.org.
SIERRA CLUB: The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3 million members and supporters. In addition to helping people from all backgrounds explore nature and our outdoor heritage, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.