Xavier Becerra Brings Environmental Justice to Forefront

Esther Portillo, interim executive director of the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice, one of the groups involved in the fight against San Bernardino, said winning would not mean stopping development. Instead, she said, it would be “to look closely at the environmental impact we are going to have and minimize that impact as much as possible”.

Although jobs are usually the biggest selling point for new developments, a union chapter, Teamsters local 1932, has joined the fight against airport expansion. Randy Korgan, the local’s secretary and treasurer, said, “Well, bring the jobs with you, but make sure you deal with the environmental and community impacts – make sure these people have good benefits that they will be able to live and buy houses in the area. “

The court of appeal for the ninth circuit will hear the airport’s case as early as February.

The attorney general’s involvement in local disputes can upset those who firmly support the development. Steve Brandau, a Fresno district manager, served on the Fresno City Council during some heated dispute over camp expansion plans. “It’s crazy that the AG’s office, Attorney General Becerra, is stepping in and coming down even harder than the local lawyers,” he said. Citing a long-standing conservative refrain, he said that in the long run, such activities “result in business being completely out of state”.

Mr. Mataka acknowledged the friction in Fresno. “They thought we weren’t on our trail,” he said. “Unfortunately, the attorney general is responsible for enforcing California’s Environmental Quality Act. We were on our track. “

Mr Becerra said his office was working carefully with the local government before ever filing a pleading on a case and was looking for ways to compromise. Some churches, he said, don’t understand that their old ways of doing business leave churches underserved. They say, “We did this 20 years ago, why can’t we do it now?” he said.

He cited his experience as a 12-year-old congressman when he argued that he saw the role as a negotiator rather than a fighter. “They’re always looking for voices,” he said, “even across the aisle. I don’t want people to be blind. “

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