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Clean Air, a Healthy Economy: It Can Be Done

November 27, 1994

James Flanigan demonstrated real perceptiveness and insight in focusing on one of the most serious economic dilemmas facing all of Southern California: how to achieve clean, healthy air and at the same time not only preserve but enhance our economy, which is our engine for producing jobs and prosperity ("Deals in Smoke-Filled Rooms Could Help Clear the Region's Air," Nov. 9).

The editorial board of The Times also displayed its grasp of the importance of this issue to Southern California when it offered Mayor Richard Riordan an opportunity to discuss his innovative and pragmatic proposal of an air quality plan. The mayor asked me to join him in that meeting, in my capacity as a board member of the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

Together we outlined for The Times' editors his plan to satisfy state and federal requirements and be approved by them and the AQMD in time to meet the deadlines facing us, thereby averting the imposition of strict federal sanctions ruinous to Southern California's economy.

The important lesson for all of us is that the AQMD, as our regional air quality agency, is not our enemy. It is not a barrier to a healthy regional economy. Rather, it should be viewed as a tool that labor, business, environmentalists and local governments can jointly use to solve our pressing dilemma.

Pulling disparate interests together to work jointly on behalf of Southern California's economy is not a pipe dream; it can be done, and it has been done.

Its importance is that it will help Southern Californians appreciate the value and urgency of putting aside our parochial interests and working together for both cleaner air and a stronger economy.


Member, Los Angeles City Council

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