The USC Schwarzenegger Institute is pleased to welcome California Senate President pro Tempore Emeritus Kevin de León to the University of Southern California as a Distinguished Senior Fellow for Climate, Environmental Justice and Health.
De León will lead the Institute’s statewide campaign to fight childhood asthma caused by tailpipe emissions and pollution by identifying barriers to transportation electrification. Today, 8 of the 10 most polluted cities in America are in California. That pollution is a public health crisis, particularly for communities of color, children and seniors. Statewide, over five million people have asthma, and nearly 10% of kids in California have asthma. School aged children are between 20 percent and 40 percent more likely to suffer from asthma than adults. In fact, asthma is the leading cause of absenteeism in California public schools, resulting in over 14 million absences each year. Building on the success of SB 100, de León will bring together elected officials, regional transit operators, union officials, electric bus and truck manufacturers and others to find actionable solutions to childhood asthma.
“Kevin has guts and isn’t afraid to work across party lines to get the right thing done. His environmental leadership took AB 32 to the next level and created a new bar for the rest of the nation to meet,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “I’m excited to welcome him to the Institute and know we’ll accomplish great things together.”
“Tail-pipe pollution is a public health crisis threatening our environment and the health of millions of our children,” said de Leon. “Every California policymaker and planner needs to be asking themselves; how can we transform our transportation system, not years down the road, but right now. I’m looking forward to working with Arnold, the Schwarzenegger Institute and leaders across the state to accelerate the transition to a clean energy future.”
During his twelve-year tenure in the Legislature, de León authored some of the nation’s most far reaching climate and environmental justice policies. Senate Bill (SB) 350 requires buildings to double their energy efficiency and made the nation’s single largest investment in electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure. SB 535 created the so-called “California Enviro Screen,” which requires a quarter of all Cap-and-Trade auction revenues be invested in communities most heavily impacted by air and water pollution and the adverse impacts of climate change. SB 100 puts California on the path to 100% clean energy by 2045, and SB 32 expands the requirements of Gov. Schwarzenegger, Speaker Fabian Nunez, and Senator Fran Pavley’s Global Warming Solutions Act.
Professor Antonio Bento and leading scholars from the University of Southern California and other major research universities will contribute to the initiative. Dan Jacobson with Environment California, an architect of the 100% clean energy law, and Dan Reeves, de León’s former Chief of Staff, will support the campaign and fundraising efforts.