Conoco Phillips Refinery in Wilmington CA, by Jesse Marquez

MFN members NRDC and Earthjustice sue California South Coast Air Quality Management District

Photo: Conoco Phillips Refinery in Wilmington CA, by Jesse Marquez

Following a decision by the South Coast Air Quality Management District that violates California law and places public health in jeopardy, Moving Forward Network members and others have filed a lawsuit to require stronger air pollution reductions.

The suit says the air board violated California law by rejecting staff-proposed reforms to the NOx RECLAIM program, instead approving an oil industry-backed measure that allows refineries and other major polluters to delay installing equipment to reduce dangerous particulate matter and smog-forming nitrogen oxide, or NOx.

Southern California is in violation of Federal standards for ozone, and has the worst smog in the United States.

The dramaticCaptureally altered position and actions of the board come after a political takeover and ouster of long-time executive director Barry Wallerstein on a partisan vote.  

Public health experts strongly opposed the action.  Speaking for 19 scientists who study the health effects of air pollution, MFN participant and USC Professor of Clinical Preventive Medicine Andrea Hricko said, “Dr. Wallerstein’s leadership and vision have helped to improve air quality and health for millions of residents…But we still do not have healthy air to breathe in the Southland, and the job is not done.”

The lawsuit was filed by Moving Forward Network members Natural Resources Defense Council and Earthjustice on behalf of Communities for a Better Environment, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Sierra Club.

The industry backed measure violates California’s Health and Safety Code, which requires market-based cap and trade programs like NOx RECLAIM to achieve the same pollution reductions as direct pollution controls. Southern California refineries have already saved approximately $205 million since 2007 by delaying installation of pollution-control equipment.

“This lawsuit is a warning to the air board that Californians won’t stand by when vital emissions rules are weakened to benefit polluters,” said David Pettit, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “If board members continue to water down regulations that should protect our air, they can expect a fight every step of the way.”

For more information, see:

Southern California air quality board is sued over adoption of industry-friendly smog rules, Los Angeles Times

AQMD’s weaker new smog rules under attack from state and environmentalists, 89.3 KPCC

Editorial: AQMD playing politics with Southern California’s air quality, Los Angeles Daily News

Power grab topples another defender of California’s environment, Los Angeles Times

AQMD vote to fire executive officer called ‘shameful,’ hit by enviros, City News Service




Freight Economy Roundtable March 22 in Los Angeles

Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Administrator Gregory Nadeau has been touring the country putting on freight events, “regional, policy-specific roundtables with state and local transportation representatives, the business community, safety and environmental advocates, and freight stakeholders.”

His next stop is in Los Angeles at the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce on March 22 from 9-11 am.

In an Atlanta roundtable in February, Administrator Nadeau discussed the 2015 DOT report, Beyond Traffic, which includes cautionary warnings about goods movement air pollution:

Beyond Traffic Page 66

Source: Beyond Traffic: U.S. DOT’s 30-Year Framework for the Future, 2015


 For more information:

Proof! “Superpolluters” target minority and low-income communities

It’s impossible to visit polluted, overburdened low income and minority communities without getting the strong feeling that they are targets for the worst polluters in America.

An excellent study proves this is true, and identifies roughly 800 of the dirtiest facilities that are damaging millions of peoples lives in these communities.

Learn more about the study in these articles:

If You’re a Minority and Poor, You’re More Likely to Live Near a Toxic Waste Site, Fortune Magazine

SUNY-ESF professor co-writes study finding evidence of environmental racism, Daily Orange

or read the entire study at

Study Cross-Links Pollution Extremes to Race, Socio-Economic Status, IOPScience




DOJ Yates Memo has Potential BIG Implications for Environmental Enforcement – Seminar/Teleconference February 16

While little known to most of us who aren’t attorneys, the “Yates Memo”, issued by the Department of Justice last September, promises to ensure culpable individuals are held for responsible corporate environmental and other crimes in criminal and/or civil court.

Source: Sally Yates speech at NYU School of Law (linked below)
In a related initiative, the Department of Justice and Department of Labor teamed to announce the “Expansion of Worker Endangerment Initiative to Address Environmental and Worker Safety Violations.”

Questions I am asking myself:

Could this mean that corporate executives will be less likely to allow environmental or workplace safety violations? 

Might community groups get positive action by publicly putting those executives on notice of violations of environmental law?

Thoughts and comments to this blog post from attorneys would be appreciated!

To learn more about the Yates memo and its ramifications for environmental justice, consider spending $50 to join the seminar at the Environmental Law Institute in Washington, D.C., or $20 to attend by teleconference.

The main speaker is Kris Dighe, Senior Counsel for the U.S. Department of Justice Environmental Crimes Section.

For more information:

The Departments of Justice and Labor Announce Expansion of Worker Endangerment Initiative to Address Environmental and Worker Safety Violations, Department of Justice  Press Release 

Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates Delivers Remarks at New York University School of Law Announcing New Policy on Individual Liability in Matters of Corporate Wrongdoing, Department of Justice

The Yates Memo: Individual Accountability for Corporate Wrongdoing, Department of Justice

The Yates Memo: It Could Get Personal, (Paid or complimentary subscription)


Executives Beware: DOJ’s New Yates Memo Signals Focus on Prosecuting Individuals, BDLaw

New DOJ Guidance Puts Emphasis on Identifying Culpable Individuals in Corporate Internal Investigations: Environmental Enforcement Implications, Sidley

Infographic – Research on health risks from living near diesel exhaust

Check out this very informative infographic, provided through a partnership with the Southern California Environmental Health Science Centers, based at the University of Southern California. 

The infographic includes interactive links that lead to much useful information. For example, in the HOW section, the health effects are linked to specific research articles. Links to websites and social media are also interactive. Have fun exploring!

The Moving Forward Network has also made this infographic available in PDF format for download. If you intend to distribute this infographic, please take a minute to let us know where/how you intend to do so. Thanks!

English PDF, Spanish PDF

Please help make overburdened communities safer by signing our petition at the Zero Campaign Website to urge the EPA to clean up ports, rail yards, and other freight facilities.

Work with the MFN through the USC centers comes from the Community Outreach and Engagement Program. This effort, funded in part by the Kresge Foundation, is an ongoing effort to provide accessible information about health research.

GREAT interview with Onyx Bazulto about freight pollution, asthma, and Environmental Justice in the Imperial Valley

Learn from change-maker Onyx Bazulto’s description of the environmental challenges in Brawley, California, how they have affected her life, and why and how she is fighting to protect her family and her community.

Brawley, with a population of about 25,000 people, is located between the Salton Sea and the border crossing at Calexico-Mexicali, along a heavily traveled freight corridor.

She was interviewed by Humberto Lugo, policy advocate with Comite Civico Del Valle, Inc.

Listen to this excellent interview with Seattle community activist Paulina Lopez

Puget Sound Sage and the South Park Information and Resource Center teamed to produce an excellent StoryCorps interview with Paulina Lopez, a volunteer with the resource center.

In the interview Paulina describes Seattle’s South Park community, which is bordered by the heavily polluted Duwamish River and is plagued by severe air pollution from train, truck, and air traffic, resulting in health problems, including high asthma rates among children.

She talks about how she and others formed the resource center to get more involvement by the Latino community in neighborhood and city decision making, and how the organization has become an important hub for all members of the community

Paulina eloquently paints a picture of how she and her organization have worked with different immigrant groups in the neighborhood, the importance of children’s health in their work, and their success in building a strong community of advocates.

Her description of how her group and the Asthma Coalition have partnered to train people to make their own air filters, and the positive impact they have had on childrens’ respiratory problems is very informative and interesting.

To listen to the interview, please click the link below.

Paulina talks about how she became inspired to be a changemaker, and how environmental pollution impacts her community.

VERY IMPORTANT – please sign our petition to clean up the air in port and rail yard communities throughout the USA.  Just click below


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