Protesters oppose Parra stance

Maryann Kopp

Supporters of bill SB 719 gathered in front of Assemblywoman Nicole Parra’s office on Thursday to protest her five-year long opposition to the bill, which will increase the Valley Air Board members by four scientific and medical experts.
Representatives from the Center on Race, Poverty, & the Environment (C.R.P.E.), The Dolores Huerta Foundation, and many others came donning signs that read “Too many have suffered,” “Wouldn’t it be great to have clean air?” and “Struggling to breathe in Arvin – We want clean air now,” among others.
Ingrid Bolstrom, an attorney for the C.R.P.E., said, “Parra has actively fought to defeat this bill for the last five years, even though her district is one of the most polluted districts in the U.S. It doesn’t make a lot of sense. We are here to ask her why and also to ask her to change her vote and support the bill SB 719.”
There were several speakers at the protest, all of whom were introduced by Gustavo Aguirre, the assistant director of Organizing for the C.R.P.E.
The first speaker, Salvador Partida of Arvin, explained why passing the bill is so crucial, and urged Parra to side with the people she represents.
“SB 719 will bring more expertise to the board, and professionals that can help us breathe better,” Partida stated. “The city of Arvin has the worst air in the nation, and we need all the help we can get. We want Nicole Parra on our side. This is a bill that, we think, will help create a board that will serve us better. We need the experts to tell us what needs to be done to get the air clean before 2024. We can’t live with this. We are struggling to breathe in the city of Arvin. We need your help. Please help us.”
Nettie Morrison, the mayor for Allensworth, who has to breathe with the help of an oxygen tank strapped to her back, said that she suffers from asthma and hypertension of the lungs, and fears that by putting this bill off, she and people like her will only suffer more complications. “That’s the reason why SB 719 is so important,” she said.
Carolyne Farrell, another representative for the C.R.P.E., pointed out a major flaw with the San Joaquin Valley Air Board as it stands without the bill.
“This is crucially important now in light of recent comments by senior Air District governing board members, Steven Worthley and Jon McQuiston, that the Air District Board is not a public health agency,” Farrell began. “This is in direct contradiction to the mandate admission of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. This is in direct contradiction to their mandate to implement and achieve health based air quality standards.”
After the speakers were finished, the group walked into the office, packing the waiting area and beyond, to hand a San Joaquin Valley Air Board Reform fact sheet to Parra’s field representative, Nerissa Robinson, who assured them that she would give every bit of information to Parra.
According to the fact sheet provided by the C.R.P.E., a recent poll showed that “8 in 10 Valley residents favor the idea of including professionals of the Valley Air Board with knowledge of health and environmental issues.” It also states that more than 1,200 premature deaths occur every year in the Valley as a result of “particulate matter pollution,” and that a considerable amount of Valley residents are suffering from asthma and respiratory ailments.
Lorraine Partida, representing A Better Community for Arvin, said, “We’re not going to suffer from bad air anymore. I’m not going to put my health or the health of my child in danger.”