For years citizens of California’s central valley have been asking for help and Wednesday, if only for a few hours, one of the most influential people in the country listened. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson travelled to a church in Fresno to hear the concerns of the people of the valley and what she heard was troubling to say the least.
In Arvin, one in four children has asthma. In Kettleman City a birth defect cluster has terrified a small town. In Delano farm workers and local citizens have been exposed to dangerous pesticides. And throughout the valley huge swaths of land are out of compliance with federal air quality standards and entire towns have undrinkable water. These were just a few of the concerns raised by members of the Central Valley Air Quality Coalition (CVAQ) at Wednesday’s meeting.
Although the news in the valley is bad, Wednesday’s meeting was a positive development. Nearly 10 years ago, affected citizens, concerned medical practitioners and environmental groups including Earthjustice got together to form CVAQ. Since then the coalition has worked tirelessly to raise the profile of the area’s environmental and health problems. The fact that the top environmental official in the land made a trip to listen to local residents is no small feat. Both the members of CVAQ as well as Administrator Jackson deserve kudos for this.
This, however, should only be the beginning of Administrator Jackson’s work in the area. The people of the valley deserve the full attention of local, state and national environmental authorities. In the next blog post, Earthjustice Research and Policy Analyst Sarah Jackson will break down some of the specific demands that valley residents issued to Administrator Jackson yesterday. She’ll also let you know what Earthjustice is doing about those demands.
When Sarah Jackson wasn’t helping behind the scenes at Wednesday’s event she was taking pictures of the action! Here is a set of our favorites for you to see and share.
Unfortunately at the last minute the press was not allowed into the event, however news organizations still covered Jackson’s visit to Fresno as well as another visit with farmers in the area here are a few links to news stories
ABC News: EPA Administrator visits Valley, answers criticisms
Hanford Sentinel: Protestors Blast EPA Head
Associated Press: Hear of EPA met with protest in Central California
An Editorial Written by Lisa Jackson in The Fresno Bee
Fresno Bee: Federal EPA Administrator Tours Valley Farms