California Budget Done, Now Millions Breathe More Dirty Diesel Fumes

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Jessica Lass, 310-434-2300 (office) or 202-468-6718 (cell)

California Budget Done, Now Millions Breathe More Dirty Diesel Fumes

Flawed Legislative Process Allowed a Handful of Lawmakers to Push Personal Agendas Instead of Solve Budget Crisis

SACRAMENTO - Ending months of uncertainty and an unprecedented state financial
crisis, California's lawmakers passed a bi-partisan budget today. The
announced plan is designed to meet the $41 billion budget shortfall
through 2010, but may end up costing the state more in the long run due
to partisan policy agendas designed to relax pollution standards for
diesel construction equipment and a series of highway projects. A delay
in clean-up of diesel emissions from off-road vehicles will cost
Californians billions in healthcare costs annually.

Following is a statement by Ann Notthoff, California advocacy director at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC):

"California's
archaic supermajority vote requirement to approve the budget allows
just six Republicans to demand concessions and hold up the budget for
months at the expense of their constituents' heath and well being.   A
small group of lawmakers insisted on delays for cleaning up the air
that will cost hundreds of lives and contribute to asthma and chronic
respiratory illness affecting thousands of Californians. Their major
success during months of intense budget negotiations is to slow state
efforts to clean up the dirtiest air pollution."

"Policy
discussion never should have been allowed into the budget process and
we will work to prevent this situation from happening again. The system
is broken and a small fraction of people took advantage of the
situation to the full extent.  It would have been much worse if the
Legislature's Democratic leaders hadn't fought back.  Thanks to them,
there weren't more environmental losses."

"The unpopular
Republican policy agenda fails to protect the health and safety of
Californians or solve our economic problems. Now  Californians have to
pay the price.

Background

The
months-long budget stalemate brought massive public works projects to a
halt, earned the state the lowest credit rating the U.S., and drove the
State leaders to give in to the ransom demands of a small minority of
Republican legislators in order to produce an agreement on the budget.

Republican
legislators insisted on weakening state rules and allowing more diesel
pollution from construction equipment and exempting eight highway
projects from California's Environmental Quality Act and accelerating
environmental permits on those eight projects.

For more information, read Ann Notthoff's blog at: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/anotthoff/

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The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has 1.2 million members and online activists, served from offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Beijing.

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