Governor Schwarzenegger vetoes clean air bill

My son Evan is four years old and has asthma.  When he has an attack he coughs uncontrollably to the point where he can't catch his breath.  We then pump steroids into Evan's lungs until he can breathe again.  That's why Governor Schwarzenegger's veto of an important clean air bill in the final few minutes before the midnight deadline on September 30 feels like a personal affront.  My child is breathing dirty air.  Our children are breathing dirty air, and each year more than 1 million of them miss school because they are too sick to go.  That's more than 6000 per day. 

The bill, SB 974, would have required owners of cargo that passes through our state's largest ports to pay a share of the cost of cleaning up the diesel pollution they cause.  Not the whole cost, just a share of the cost.  And according to the state's own estimates, the money raised by the bill would have been only about half of what is needed to address the problems of port pollution.  Much of the cargo coming through the ports is toys, electronics and apparel from China.  Even if the major retailers pass on the fee required by SB 974 to consumers, it would amount to a fraction of a penny on a pair of shoes and maybe a penny or two on a DVD player.   

With this veto the governor sided with corporate interests who acknowledge there's a huge health problem because of port operations, but object to sharing responsibility for the solution.  The urgent health crisis remains and the California state budget is so out of whack I can't imagine any money coming down for clean air in the foreseeable future.  Instead, the state will continue to pay more on the back end when children who can't breathe are treated in emergency rooms.  Opponents may have succeeded in killing the most important clean air bill of the session, but NRDC and our allies will not rest until all of our children breathe a little easier.