Statement from the President pro Tempore on DTSC

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

“I’m pleased the Governor has finally appointed a permanent director to oversee the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) after a six month vacancy. DTSC is in dire need of a shakeup and Exide appears to be the tip of iceberg of problems at DTSC - the state agency charged with protecting public health from toxic releases.

There have been repeated failures over decades that have impacted the health and environment of the residents in the communities I represent, including Boyle Heights, East LA, and Southeast LA.

While I’m encouraged the Administration is making progress towards requiring the clean-up of lead and other toxic contaminants at over 200 affected homes, DTSC cannot and should not rest until the community's health is fully protected. It’s also time for the Administration and the Legislature to take a fresh look at the department and bring it into the 21st century.  The status quo is simply not acceptable.

Earlier this year I authored legislation (SB 812) that would have tightened up procedures and improved public health information in situations like Exide. I was disappointed it was vetoed by the Governor even though it would have instituted permanent reforms at DTSC to make it more effective and build confidence with our residents that the Department is protecting their health.

In my new position as President pro Tem, I will continue to work with the Governor’s office to make sure these reforms are put in place immediately. The Senate will also review the Governor’s nomination for director of DTSC very closely and make sure she also commits to overhauling the agency.  Let there be no doubt, I will use every tool at my disposal to protect the residents of Boyle Heights and surrounding neighborhoods and reduce their exposure to toxic contamination. This simply cannot stand."