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|California State Government||October 7, 2003 Election|
Protecting and Preserving a Healthy Environment
By Audie BockCandidate for Recall of Gray Davis; State of California
This information is provided by the candidate
The weak record on air, water and land preservation and cleanup can be greatly improved. We need new direction.The current administration's record on environmental issues is far from the stellar performance they claim in their message of fear about the Recall. With courage and foresight, we can do better.
The latest acts of the Davis-Bustamante regime have been to put term limits on the dangerously inbred Coastal Commission, to squeeze out some small grants from a deeply indebted state treasury, and to put into effect a new "e-recycling" law that places the burden on the consumer in the form of a new $10 tax on every hardware unit sold.
In the face of the enormous environmental problems we face, some of which have been caused or exacerbated by this administration, these are paltry accomplishments indeed.
Right after taking office in early 1999, Governor Davis issued an executive order to remove MTBE from the gasoline supply by December 31, 2002. From the mid-1990's the Department of Health Services had begun to find this toxin, used to reduce air pollution, leaching into the water supply at an alarming rate.
By 1999 the cities of South Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada, and Santa Monica on the Pacific Coast, were shutting off their drinking water wells. Executive Order D-5-99 gave the oil companies a generous two years to do whatever "retooling" they deemed necessary to reformulate the gasoline.
But when the bill to "implement the Governor's vision" reached the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxics Committee, on which I served, the December 31, 2002, deadline was missing. When I asked the state senator carrying the bill why, he replied that the deadline had been removed at the request of the Governor's office. "Then your bill doesn't really do anything, does it, Senator?" I asked. He expressed sheepish agreement. Along the way Gray Davis had decided to negotiate his own individual deadlines with each oil company.
By now we all know what these personal negotiations mean: the interested parties will write big checks to the Governor's campaign account and the promises to the people will be broken.
Look at your local gas pump--in all likelihood, it still has a sticker on it that tells you the gas you are putting into your vehicle contains MTBE. As of August 2003, DHS has recorded MTBE in 97 water sources throughout the state, affecting 31 of our 58 counties. Not our state government, but Communities for a Better Environment, a consumer watchdog group, has sued the oil companies to make them clean up MTBE, and won a settlement from all of them.
In 1999 the Federal Environmental Protection Agency declared that dioxin, a highly carcinogenic substance created by the combustion of chlorine-bearing elements, was one of the worst pollutants in San Francisco Bay. Along with mercury and PCB's, it makes Bay fish unfit for human consumption. The Davis-Bustamante administration failed to respond at all.
I took action, and I fought using three successive measures to bring oil companies, paper producers, and medical waste incinerators into agreement on a dioxin reduction standard. I succeeded by bringing my legislation, fresh from overwhelming committee support, to the Air Resources Board, which got a Budget Change Proposal signed to implement my monitoring requirements statewide in June 2001. Miraculously, Oakland's dioxin-producing commercial medical waste incinerator, the only one in the entire state, closed immediately.
Was there any assistance from the Davis-Bustamante administration? On the contrary, I had been advised by the head of the California EPA not to embarrass the Governor by bringing the issue to his attention. Politics always takes precedence over the health of the people and the environment.
The MTBE and dioxin experiences typify the practices of the Davis-Bustamante administration with regard to the environment. Whenever there was campaign money to be made by stalling, progress was slow. If there was no money to be made, the issue was simply ignored. No one doubts that the huge dioxin release that Gray Davis allowed the Tosco Refinery to commit in 2000 had to do with the $70,500 in contributions to his campaign coffers.
Life-threatening environmental issues face us: the loss of Colorado River water to supply thirsty Southern California; the disproportionately low prices granted to water-intensive agriculture such as cotton and rice production; the polluted runoff from pesticide and motorized vehicle use and toxic military production; the poisoning of the seacoasts from industrial waste both north and south of the border, the decreasing air quality in our populous Central Valley; the renewed threat to Headwaters Forest in spite of a federally negotiated agreement, the destruction of the Sacramento River by an irresponsible railroad company.
These are only some of the survival problems that must be negotiated and addressed at state, federal and international levels. If the priorities can be redirected away from campaign contributions and political posturing and toward serving the needs of the people and where they live, we will succeed.
As Governor, I will give a healthy environment for the people of California my close and quick attention. My record shows my commitment.
Position Paper 3
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