April 27, 2020
Below please find the text of a letter sent to Governor Gavin Newsom from members of the State Legislature regarding environmental and health regulations amidst the COVID-19 pandemic (Download the PDF).
April 27, 2020
The Honorable Gavin Newsom Governor,
State of California State Capitol, First Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
RE: Urgent Need to Defend Environmental and Health Regulations
Dear Governor Newsom:
Our state is facing an unprecedented public health crisis and many of our residents are experiencing extreme health and economic hardships due to COVID-19. We know firsthand how this crisis is impacting our communities that are complying with the shelter-in-place mandate in Executive Order N-33-20. Additionally, we know this is forcing the Administration and its Agencies to continue to implement regulations and programs that safeguard and protect public health, our environment, and natural resources. We are concerned by recent accounts in the press, as well as letters that the Legislature has received from regulated industries, that are using this public health emergency as an attempt to stop, delay, or otherwise weaken California’s environmental and public health protections. In light of this emergency, it is imperative that we resist efforts to roll back any current protections, and that we instead focus on raising awareness on the importance of healthy lungs, healthy immune systems and maintaining safeguards and health protections in place.
The health of millions of Californians — many of whom already bear the greatest burdens by living in our state’s most polluted cities — relies on you maintaining momentum in implementation and defense of clean air and climate protections, including those recently passed by the Legislature and signed into law. Our disadvantaged communities in particular, which would most benefit from regulations to clean up our air, are more at risk from COVID-19 due to harms from consistent air pollution exposure to their respiratory systems. We know that maintaining these safeguards will be important as our state is likely to experience more unpredictable and unforeseen events in the future. Maintaining resilient government institutions must continue to be a hallmark of California public policy, even as we are acutely challenged by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
We have taken a leading role in addressing air pollution and the climate crisis by setting model standards for the rest of the world. We cannot stop. Undoing or delaying these regulations would not only damage our health but also our economy. Scientists warned of a pandemic and the climate crisis — it is critical that we move towards combating and protecting people from both. Our agencies must resist attempts by polluting industries to exploit our current crisis to loosen, rollback or delay the adoption of vital environmental regulations that protect the health and safety of Californians. We ask that you continue to move forward on critical rulemakings with an emphasis on maximizing equitable and meaningful public participation and community-based feedback. Now more than ever, even as the Federal Administration works to dismantle fundamental regulations, we must uphold our commitment to safeguard Californians’ wellbeing.
We appreciate your continued hard work during these times, and we look forward to working with your agencies to defend California’s life-saving regulations.