The Los Angeles City Council Wednesday approved the creation of a municipal department charged with addressing local impacts of climate change.
Through the Climate Emergency Mobilization Department, workers who have been displaced or affected by climate change will be able to seek employment assistance. The office will also address local environmental concerns, such as pollution and health problems caused by living near potentially toxic areas.
"From our out-of-control wildfires to the Midwest's 1,000-year floods... there's no question that we're well in the throes of a deadly and increasingly dangerous global climate emergency," said City Councilman Paul Koretz.
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"Sadly, the communities that have borne the brunt of our fossil-fuel driven economy in terms of pollution and health impacts are also the communities who are on the front lines of the climate crisis."
Koretz and Councilman Bob Blumenfield authored the legislation to create the department, which will be overseen by a city Climate Emergency Commission. The new department, for which a director and staff will be hired, will engage communities directly affected by pollution and climate change.
"We will immediately launch community assemblies by which our front-line communities will be engaged in the effort so they can lead us where we need to go to serve them most effectively," Koretz said.
The council approved the establishment of the department in a unanimous 13-0 vote.
"There are kids in neighborhoods in Los Angeles whose bedrooms are within sight of oil drilling, and we need to ban oil drilling and fossil fuel extraction within 2,500 feet of a home or a church," Councilman Mike Bonin said at a news conference prior to the vote. "There are neighborhoods in Los Angeles who do not get their fair share of safety programs, of community beautification programs ... but they get more than their fair share of oil drilling and sanitation errors and pollution, so this needs to be personal for all of us."
The Climate Emergency Commission will have one appointee from each three indigenous historic local tribes -- the Gabrielino-Tongva, Fernandeno-Tataviam and Chumash tribes -- five appointees from affected communities, one labor appointee, a city council president appointee, one liaison from the council's Energy, Climate Change and Environmental Justice Committee, two youth appointees and three policy experts on climate science and related concerns.
"Today's vote will continue to prioritize frontline communities, and we'll be ensuring people from the most impacted neighborhoods who had a say in shaping this legislation will also have a say in making sure their communities get some attention," Councilwoman Nury Martinez said.