Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

CIty of Los Angeles vows support for Clean Air Act

A lump of coal.
A lump of coal.

The Los Angeles City Council has passed a resolution affirming LA's commitment to the Clean Air Act.  

"Los Angeles supports the Clean Air Act, and we want to see this landmark environmental law used to tackle greenhouse gas pollution," said Councilman Paul Koretz. "Our city has been a leader in the fight against climate change, and we're proud to back federal efforts to reduce global warming hazards."

The vote stems from a campaign for Clean Air Cities, a project of the Center for Biological Diversity. Rose Braz directs the project. Municipalities that take a pledge to support the campaign each do so in their own way, says Braz. LA's resolution as proposed mentioned that "coal-fired power plants are the largest source of unregulated mercury pollution in the country, and mercury pollution threatens the health of between one in six and one in twelve women in Los Angeles." 

"L.A.'s leaders recognize that climate change will cause serious harm to California's environment and public health, and they support a key solution in the Clean Air Act," she said. "Cities around the country, from Seattle to Pittsburgh - and now Los Angeles - are sending an urgent message to our president and other national leaders: To avert a climate catastrophe, we need to act now."

The Los Angeles Department of Water & Power obtains almost 40 percent of its energy from coal-fired power. At his second inaugural, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa vowed to eliminate coal from the city's energy mix by the year 2020. Current leaders at the DWP say they plan to eliminate the use of coal by the year 2027. 

The LA City Council delayed action on another resolution opposing increased activity at the Alton Coal mine in Utah. The mine's operators are hoping to expand onto land adjacent Bryce Canyon National Park. Alton sells coal to the Intermountain Power Project, a power plant that is managed in part by the DWP to deliver power to Los Angeles. 

Members of the Sierra Club campaign L.A. Beyond Coal turned out to support the resolution, as did the Natural Resources Defense Council. 

Other cities in league with Los Angeles include Tampa, Cincinnati, Chicago, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Kansas City, Albany, Tucson, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and 8 northern California cities. 

In voting unanimously for a resolution supporting the Clean Air Act, the city council has stepped into a national political debate in which environmentalists and climate activists are pitted against opponents to the existence of the Environmental Protection Agency, conservatives who believe federal clean air laws should not apply to climate-changing gases, and lawmakers who downplay human inputs to a warming climate. 

A group of East Coast state leaders including Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has been appealing the Environmental Protection Agency's determination that greenhouse gases pose a threat to human health. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals turned back the challenge on Tuesday. Nevertheless, Cuccinelli and others say they will challenge EPA's determination to the U.S. Supreme Court