California’s Environment Improving, But Not Evenly

Perhaps better than most people, Alan C. Lloyd, secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency, understands the interplay between justice and ethics and California’s environmental progress.
As part of the Chancellor’s Distinguished Fellows Series at UC Irvine, Lloyd delivered a lecture entitled ‘Air Quality, the Environment and Energy from Smog to Global Climate Change’ on Jan. 18 at the Beckman Center.
Lloyd has been called a pioneer by his peers and is said to be leading the way in environmental commitment, but Lloyd is quick to say that California’s environment can be improved.
‘We need to live up to our environmental commitment,’ Lloyd said in front of a diverse audienceof his colleagues, peers and his son, who had never seen him deliver a speech before.
Barbara J. Finlayson-Pitts, UCI professor of chemistry, introduced Lloyd to the audience.
‘I co-nominated Alan,’ Finlayson-Pitts said. ‘[I] have known Alan for many years and know he is a superb scientist as well as a policy person. He is very rare in that he can combine the two, and is very effective in both. He’s made major contributions to improving air quality in California.’
One of Lloyd’s key points was that the environment can improve regionally, but that such improvements can leave certain areas, such as Fresno and the Los Angeles and Long Beach port areas, overlooked. This is what he terms ‘environmental injustice’ and ‘unethical.’
Lloyd said that one in every six children in Fresno goes to school with an asthma inhaler.
‘For those of you who have not seen firsthand where some of the worst problems are, you don’t have recognition of what needs to be done,’ Lloyd said. ‘Past practices leading to inequity need to addressed. Future inequity needs to be prevented.’ He indicated that the Air Resource Board has been taking strides in ameliorating the problem.
Job outsourcing is not the best solution to the problem, according to Lloyd. The transportation of outsourced goods causes much of the greenhouse gas emissions that California is aiming to reduce.
‘We’ve outsourced so many jobs to Asia,’ Lloyd said. ‘What you don’t realize is that the goods come right back to us. It’s a big issue. I think about 40 percent of the stuff goes as far as East Chicago,’ Lloyd said.
Overall, Lloyd’s outlook on air quality, the environment and energy was a positive one, and he noted that California was taking good risks and leading the way. Because emission standards are strict in California, they push the development of green technologies, he said.
‘It took courage for Schwarzenegger to have California lead the way in climate control,’ Lloyd said. ‘For the first time, California has gone on to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which will culminate in emissions reductions to that of 2000 by 2010.’
According to the Cal/EPA, this means an emission reduction of 59 million tons.
Under Lloyd’s guidance, Cal/EPA has implemented a variety of programs and initiatives to alleviate environmental concerns. These include the Climate Action Team, formed to carry out the governor’s Climate Change Initiative, executed on June 1, 2005; the California Electronic Recycling Act; creating funding for the California Hydrogen Highway Network; and the California Stationary Fuel Cell Collaborative.
Lloyd made it clear that universities such as UCI play a critical role in California’s environmental commitment, since environmental education, shared internal research, technology development and technology transfer are crucial to further progress.
‘It’s the people who give us the power to challenge these issues,’ Lloyd said. ‘It’s the students and researchers.’
Shari Stern, UCI lecturer in environmental health, science and policy, thought Lloyd approached California’s place in air quality, the environment and energy holistically.
‘He looked at it from a interdisciplinary perspective,’ Stern said. ‘I thought he painted a complete picture of the problem and solutions involving technology. It shows you can’t try to solve the problem with one solution. You can’t force manufacturers. You have to either provide incentives or encourage people to buy them.’
Ilya Klinger, a third-year history major, said he thoroughly enjoyed the lecture and felt empowered by it.
‘It reinforced the power I feel as a student, how students can set the base for the future,’ Klinger said.