Fresno Bee Newsroom Blog

New organization will advocate for Valley rural towns

Community worker Veronica Garibay and lawyer Phoebe Seaton — known for the Community Equity Initiative at California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. — have launched a new organization to continue helping rural California.

The nonprofit Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability will focus on land-use planning, resources and government organization.  Garibay and Seaton say there is a need to directly organize, influence policy and legally protect low-income, rural communities from environmental degradation and inequality.

Said Seaton: “Local decisionmakers have historically and systematically failed to invest in low income communities on the one hand, while over-burdening those same communities with industrial, toxic and hazardous facilities.”

Leadership Counsel will collaborate with CRLA, a non-profit legal advocacy group that has long promoted the interests of migrant laborers and the rural poor.

UC Davis uses Fresno air to study most toxic particles

Not all pollution particles are created equally bad for you. The ones from cars, trucks, fireplaces and cooking are probably getting the worst reactions from your body.

Two University of California scientists came to the conclusion after collecting air samples from Fresno in summer 2008 and winter 2009, identifying the particles in the samples and allowing laboratory mice to inhale them.

Murky air in downtown Fresno

The approach is the first of its kind, according to the UC Davis scientists, Anthony Wexler and Kent Pinkerton. Wexler is the director of the Air quality Research Center at Davis. Pinkerton is professor of pediatrics at the School of Medicine.

Their work on this study will help regulators in the future as they tighten standards to protect human health.

“Right now, air-quality standards are based on the mass of the particulate matter and don’t distinguish between natural sources, like sea spray, and known toxic sources, like diesel exhaust,” said Wexler, who led the study.

The bottom line: New standards some day might be aimed at certain types of particles, instead of all particles. It would save money for industries in the cleanup.

The study was funded by the California Air Resources Board and the Electric Power Research Institute.