Indirect Source Rule a Big Step toward Clean Air and Zero Emissions

By Andrea Vidaurre, CCAEJ Policy Analyst & Community Organizer

For decades, disadvantaged communities in the South Coast Basin have been plagued by pollution coming from commercial activities at warehouses, rail yards, seaports and airports. Diesel truck, train, and cargo ship emissions are concentrated at these types of facilities, costing us our health and lives—especially when they are located directly behind our homes and schools.  

After many years of advocating for the right to clean, breathable, and healthy air, the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) is finally getting to work on an Indirect Source Rule (ISR)—a regulation that would create a facility-based approach to holding these commercial hubs accountable for the emissions that they attract.

Convincing the SCAQMD Board to start a rule-making process represents more than just a new regulation on the books. It also shows that air regulators are finally beginning to recognize the power of our organizing and our right to clean air and healthy communities.

The Indirect Source Rule will provide large scale improvements by mandating companies such as Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) to regulate diesel trucks and locomotives that travel through their facilities. It will provide environmental justice communities with a long-awaited opportunity to directly voice their concerns and bring up solutions to air regulators.

Lorena Rodarte is a longtime resident of San Bernardino, California who lives on the Westside where BNSF is located. She and many other community members in our basin that live in close proximity to these facilities understand firsthand what it will mean to begin regulating this pollution. “It’s not a job killer, like industry argues, but a crucial step that will protect the livelihood of our communities,” she says. “Our concerns have fallen on deaf ears. Inland leaders especially have failed to understand the need for air regulations. But, now we will have the chance to directly push for zero emissions.”

The Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice (CCAEJ) is dedicated to ensuring that air regulators understand how important a strong Indirect Source Rule is for our regional air quality and environmental justice communities. We are pushing to implement a rule that prioritizes people that have been the most burdened—a rule that does not create new disadvantaged communities, but instead brings equitable change and eradicates the harmful impacts of dirty fossil fuels.

This incredible victory was gained through years of advocacy by CCAEJ and multiple community groups and partners across the region. We will continue to push for zero-emission technology, clean energy, and access to clean, breathable air in our neighborhoods through the Indirect Source Rule.