EL CENTRO, Calif. (KYMA, KECY)- For the first time officials from the California Air Resource Board, made their way to the Imperial Valley to see the environmental challenges facing valley residents.
Jose Luis Olmedo, the Executive Director of Comite Civico Del Valle was one of the many county officials to welcome the board.
"Show them the community. Become familiar on the ground. How the communities and the proximity to some of these sources. You know all of this is to again inform the board, inform the executives and the staff of the state and have them continue to push resources and funding," said Olmedo.
Karen Magliano, the Director of the Office of Community Protection, and other board members were given a tour of the Salton Sea as well as the New River by the border that has been a health hazard for Calexico residents.
"It really brings it home on how important it is to people. What matters to them. And then it helps us better focus our efforts to know what we need to address from the state level," said Magliano.
But its thanks to AB 617, a community air protection program for counties facing similar challenges like the Imperial Valley, that local officials can work together to pinpoint the problems to reduce emissions at the neighborhood scale.
Olmedo said, "This legislation specifically targets that. And puts dollars which is very rare. A lot of the times there's passage of bills and there's no money. And this has already put ten million here locally. And we expect more money to continue to come in over the next five years."
Magliano said the visit from the board also shows a commitment from the state to improve health conditions for Imperial Valley residents.
"They're getting impacted by all these different things. What they're really looking for is not caring so much who's responsible for it. But that everyone is working together to do something about it."
Officials from the California Air Resource Board also attended a meeting where they heard project proposals from the AB 617 group as well as comments from the public.