Los Angeles, CA – During their meeting today, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve a motion put forth by Supervisors Janice Hahn and Hilda Solis to create a new Los Angeles County 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 in Los Angeles County.
Speaking to the Board, Supervisor Hahn said that since being elected, 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. Neighborhoods she represents continue to deal with lead contamination from the former Exide battery recycling plant.
“It is time we get proactive,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn. “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 with employees from the Department of Public Health’s Toxicology and Environmental Assessment Branch and an interim director for the new office will be appointed within the next 30 days. The Office will first create its Strategic Plan, which is expected to be ready in nine months. The Strategic Plan will finalize the priority policy areas of focus, in consultation with community stakeholders and the Community Prevention and Population Health Task Force.
“Communities across Los Angeles County are crying out for justice: environmental justice,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, First District. “While this Board has stepped up to elevate and prioritize environmental justice, it is critical that we take bolder steps in our actions to respond decisively. This motion helps to do just that by creating transformative changes to the environmental and climate health of our residents.”
In April, Hahn and Solis led the Board in adopting Environmental Justice and Climate Health as a Board priority, and directed the Department of Public Health to produce a plan to create the Office. The vote formally adopts the roadmap in the Department’s October 2022 report entitled, “Evolving and Advancing the Board Directed Priority: Environmental Justice and Climate Health,” which called for the creation of the Office of Environmental Justice and Climate Health.