Gov. George Deukmejian did his part to get cleaner air in Southern California. He signed SB 151, a measure by Sen. Robert Presley (D-Riverside) that gives the region new legal tools to prevent smog or to trap it before it gets into the air. But Sacramento can only do so much. How fast Southern California moves to tighten up controls on air pollution and how far it goes is squarely up to its own politicians.
The first indication of how seriously its politicians take the new law will come with their appointments to a restructured South Coast Air Quality Management District, Southern California's lead agency for air-pollution control. If that turns into a round of musical chairs that produces no change in policy outlook, the rest of the law may not matter much.
But the opportunities are broad. The South Coast Air Quality Management District has in the past been responsible only for stationary sources of pollution like refineries, power plants and smokestack industries. Presley and the Legislature expanded the district's authority to include the power to ban most trucks from heavily traveled roads at rush hour and to lean on operators of bus fleets to cut down on diesel pollution and commercial fleets to use cleaner-burning fuel.
The law is only a start. Now it must be used.