San Francisco, CA – For decades, air pollution plagued the Bay Area, posing a serious health threat to local residents. Yet, thanks to the contributions of many local groups, air quality has steadily improved in recent years. At noon today at the World Trade Club of San Francisco, BREATHE CALIFORNIA will honor those who have contributed to this progress at the 16th annual Clean Air Awards.
Each year, BREATHE CALIFORNIA presents its Clean Air Awards to businesses, organizations and individuals who are committed to improving air quality in the region. The event brings together leaders from government, business and community groups to celebrate the innovative approaches being taken to reduce air pollution.
“Research continues to show what a tremendous impact air pollution has on our health,” said Linda Civitello-Joy, President and CEO of BREATHE CALIFORNIA, Golden Gate Public Health Partnership. “That’s why it is critically important to fight for tougher emission standards and promote community-based efforts to clean the air we breathe.” In addition to the awards, Dr. Robert Sawyer, Chair of the California Air Resources Board, will deliver the keynote address. This years Clean Air Award winners include:
State Senator Joe Simitian (Palo Alto) - Leadership
For his unwavering commitment to improving air quality and protecting the environment. Senator Simitian was a principal co-author of AB 1493, the landmark greenhouse gas emissions bill and AB 32, the California Climate Act of 2006. He also authored AB 471, which requires cruise ships to use cleaner fuels within 25 miles of the California coast. He presently chairs the Senate’s Environmental Quality Committee where he can continue to promote and affect positive changes for California’s environment.
Ditching Dirty Diesel Collaborative (Oakland) - Leadership/Grassroots Advocacy
For developing strong, collaborative solutions to reducing diesel emissions in the Bay Area. The Collaborative, formed in October 2004, is a powerful coalition of environmental justice and health related organizations focused on reducing diesel pollution in the Bay Area, especially from idling trucks and school buses. Their advocacy has educated and built awareness and is leading to positive environmental change in the community.
Metropolitan Transportation Commission (Oakland) - Smart Growth/Green Buildings
For the innovative Transit Oriented Development (TOD) policy that will facilitate smart growth practices in conjunction with major transit investments for rail, ferry, rapid bus, BART and e-BART. Because of the TOD policy, the region will have a more efficient transit system that will maximize transportation investments.
ALZA Corporation (Mountain View) - Greenhouse Gas Emissions
For its partnership with the City of Mountain View that uses methane gas from a closed landfill to generate power for ALZA’s buildings, thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The project reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 7,000 metric tons, the equivalent of removing 1,500 motor vehicles from the road while ensuring that ALZA has reliable source energy and reduced costs. The City of Mountain View generates revenue from the project and makes use of a waste gas.
Cleaire Advanced Emission Controls (San Leandro) - Technology and Research
For innovation in the design, development and manufacture of advanced retrofit control devices that reduce diesel emissions from in-use engines. Cleaire’s products are certified by the state and reduce emissions of diesel particulate matter, a toxic air contaminant, and smog-forming oxides of nitrogen. Cleaire collaborates with many public and private entities to make their products successful. As a result, we all breathe easier.
Paul Rogers, San Jose Mercury News (San Jose) - Public Awareness/Media
For his consistent, professional, informative and accurate coverage of air quality and environmental issues on the local, state and national level. Mr. Rogers consistently provides the public with informative and insightful reporting. He shares his knowledge not only with the general public but with his students at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and UC Santa Cruz’s Science Communication Program.
PG&E, Bayview Hunters Point Community Advocates, Communities for a Better Environment, Greenaction, Literacy for Environmental Justice, San Francisco Community Power and Southeast Advocates for Environmental Justice (San Francisco) - Public Awareness/Advocacy
For the efforts that led to the closing of the PG&E power plant in Bayview Hunters Point. The community groups supported and advocated to close the plant – one of the oldest and dirtiest in the state - to improve air quality in the local neighborhood. The plant was finally closed on May 15, 2006. PG&E will now disassemble the plant and clean up the site.
Yahoo! Commute Alternatives Program (Sunnyvale) - Employee Transportation Programs
For a multi-faceted commute alternatives program that successfully reduces solo driving and air pollution emissions. Yahoo’s Employee Transportation Program is a highly visible, coordinated program that offers employees on-site services (a fitness center, store, dental services, haircuts), transit subsidies, bicycle racks, showers and a shuttle service to nearby transit hubs. As a result, 39 percent of Yahoo’s employees use commute alternatives, lessening congestion and improving air quality.
Air pollution can pose serious health risks for all individuals, especially the 750,000 Bay Area residents suffering from a form of lung disease. Long-term exposure to high levels of air pollution has been linked to the onset of asthma, the development of lung cancer and premature death. Even short-term exposure can cause shortness of breath, trigger an asthma attack or cause serious complications in people with heart disease or diabetes.
For more information about the BREATHE CALIFORNIA, the Clean Air Awards or our award recipients, please contact Breathe California at (650) 994-5868 or (408) 998-5865. Visit BREATHE CALIFORNIA’s web site at www.breathecalifornia.org.