Former Assemblyman and State Senator Dean Florez was appointed to California’s powerful Air Resources Board (ARB) last week, giving the Shafter politician a powerful voice on environmental matters impacting Kern County residents.
He was named to the ARB by Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon as a result of recent legislation (AB 1288) that mandated that environmental justice communities have a seat on the Board.
Florez has long advocated for a better environment for San Joaquin Valley residents. Ten years ago he was instrumental in ending exemptions from air pollution regulations that California’s powerful agricultural industry had long enjoyed. More recently, he has lobbied against attempts to weaken California’s climate change regulations, taking a stand against another powerful interest group, the oil industry.
In discussing his historic appointment – no member of the ARB has ever before been appointed by the leader of the State Senate – Flores vowed to continue fighting for the less advantaged and low-income residents of the state, saying, “I plan to remind members of CARB that disadvantaged communities are also at risk from the impacts of climate change, yet with fewer resources to respond and adapt to these impacts.”
Acknowledging California’s lead role in developing climate change regulations, Florez added, “I plan to be an anchor reminding board members that we must reduce short-lived climate pollutants through fully funded emission reduction programs yet continue to create new additional strategies. More importantly, I plan to emphasize the plight of disadvantaged to communities whose children must carry too many inhalers to school, and who find their opportunities limited due to the underinvestment of needed cap-and-trade dollars in their communities.”
Said Senate Leader De Leon, “Senator Florez will be a distinguished addition to the ARB with the experience to fight for kids struggling to breathe in our communities and the resolve to stand up to the oil lobby who want to keep the status quo. Dean grew up in the Central Valley and knows more than most what it’s like to breathe polluted air. As a Senator, he wrote the landmark law to eliminate the 63-year old agriculture exemption from clean air laws and he created the program to get dirty diesel school buses off the road so kids didn’t develop asthma. He also supported AB 32 when it passed in 2006 and then went to work to ensure it helped disadvantaged communities.”