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Gov. Brown visits polluted neighborhoods in environmental tour of southeast LA

California Gov. Jerry Brown attends the  Drive The Dream 2015, an event aimed at accelerating the continued adoption of plug-in electric vehicles in California.
California Gov. Jerry Brown attends the Drive The Dream 2015, an event aimed at accelerating the continued adoption of plug-in electric vehicles in California.

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California Gov. Jerry Brown made something of a stealthy tour in Los Angeles this week.

Assemblywoman Christina Garcia (D) of Bell Gardens invited the governor to tour polluted neighborhoods in her district and meet with environmental activists who've been pushing for policies to improve air quality in the region.

"I wanted him to experience the reality that myself and my neighbors live," said Assemblywoman Garcia. "And make it clear why I'm fighting so hard for clean air to be part of the discussion and for environmental justice is so important."

One of the reasons for Brown's visit is that he wants to expand California's cap and trade program, the system wherein companies to pay for permits that allow them to pollute. 

Take Two's A Martinez spoke with one of the representatives who met with Governor Brown, Adrian Martinez. He is a staff attorney with Earthjustice, an environmental advocacy organization. 

Interview Highlights

What's the state of pollution in Bell Gardens? 

This is one of the most polluted parts of the region. There's lots of diesel trucks and other air pollution that comes into this regions. So, the idea was to let the governor experience firsthand, what it's like to live in this area that is heavily impacted by dirty trucks, dirty trains, and other emissions from goods movement.  

What were the main topics discussed at Gov. Brown's meeting with environmental activists?

There was a lot of discussion about the 710 project which is the largest freight expansion projects to allow the southern part of the 710 to allow more trucks to come into and out of the ports of LA and Long Beach. A lot of groups have come together including community residents to propose an alternative that includes a zero-emission corridor.

There's a lot of discussion about how to protect people who live near toxic facilities like rail yards and warehouses.

And then, there was a lot of talk about Exide which was a really toxic facility that was pushing lead and arsenic into the community.

So, it was a really robust discussion about some of the most important and pressing environmental justice facing that part of Los Angeles.  

What's your top priority when it comes to tackling these issues? 

I think the freight issues are really important. We're seeing more trucks on our roads. We're seeing more freight coming though our region and we need to protect communities from the toxic diesel pollution that comes from the increased volume of freight. 

What kinds of questions did Governor Brown have for you at the meeting?

He was asking some question about zero-emissions technology. For example, battery electric trucks and trucks that run on electricity. We answered the question that there are a lot of applications where this technology can be used and should be used quickly. 

There were also some questions about the proposal the community developed around the 710 project. 

What was talked about regarding California's Cap and Trade program? 

There was a little bit of discussion about that. That is an important part of the governor's agenda. To be candid, I think what was interesting about the discussion is that is didn't come up as much as one would think for an environmental issue that a lot of people are focusing on. There was a lot more discussion of issues that are directly impacting this part of Los Angeles - freight, oil refineries, and those types of things- and how do we curb air pollution to protect communities. 

  Quotes edited for clarity and brevity 

To hear the full interview with Adrian Martinez, click on the blue Media Player above.