Twenty environmental, justice, and conservation groups are urging California to stay the course on air, public health, and climate regulations as industry groups push for delays, rollbacks, or weakening of rules during the coronavirus outbreak.
The requests are coming from business, agriculture, trucking, and shipping outlets and addressed to Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) or the California Air Resources Board (CARB).
The Coalition for Clean Air, Environment California, California Environmental Justice Alliance, and other groups sent a letter to Newsom, Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins (D), and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon on Tuesday saying some “polluters are using this public health emergency as an excuse to weaken public health protections.”
The groups said it was vital for the state to stay on track, particularly because California is home to seven of the smoggiest cities in the nation and people with associated respiratory illnesses are at higher risk of suffering complications from Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
The California Association of Port Authorities asked CARB in a March 24 letter to delay setting more stringent emissions for ships at berth until January. A draft proposal is scheduled to come before the board in December.
“This pause would afford ports and port workers time to get through the COVID-19 outbreak and navigate its economic impacts prior to enacting a regulatory change that could complicate economic recovery,” the port and a longshoreman’s union said in a March 24 letter.
Likewise, the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association said in a March 23 letter to state authorities that implementing rules on heavy-duty truck nitrogen oxide engine emissions and sales goals for zero-emission trucks for medium- and heavy-duty trucks simultaneously is complicated enough to meet without the coronavirus pandemic.
“Many manufacturers, putting the health and well-being of their employees first, have shut down operations and told their employees to work from home,” the trucking association said.
Earlier in March, CARB said timelines and deadlines would remain in place. The deadlines haven’t changed, spokesman Dave Clegern said in an email.
The governor’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.