The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Nov. 15 to create the new Office of Environmental Justice and Climate Health.
The office will operate within the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and will be tasked with proactively addressing the impacts of industrial pollution and climate change on communities. It was created on a motion introduced by Supervisors Janice Hahn, 4th District, and Hilda Solis, 1st District.
Hahn said the communities she represents have been confronted with one environmental justice crisis after another, from carcinogenic hexavalent chromium emissions from metal plating plants in Paramount to noxious fumes from an animal rendering plant in Vernon and lead contamination from the former Exide battery recycling plant.
“It is time we get proactive,” Hahn added. “We’ve seen the terrible toll that industrial pollution has had on vulnerable communities and increasingly, those same communities are also bearing the brunt of the heat waves caused by climate change. With this new office, we will not only better help these communities in crisis, but craft policies of the future that will help us protect them.”
The Office of Environmental Justice and Climate Health will be staffed by employees from the Department of Public Health’s Toxicology and Environmental Assessment Branch. An interim director for the new office will be appointed within the next 30 days. The office will first create a strategic plan, which is expected to be ready in nine months. The strategic plan will prioritize policy objectives in consultation with community stakeholders and the Community Prevention and Population Health Task Force.
“This motion helps to do just that by creating transformative changes to the environmental and climate health of our residents,” Solis said.
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