Activist Wins Goldman Prize for California Cleanup Efforts

( – A grassroots organizer has been awarded a Goldman Prize for environmental activists after they led a successful campaign to clean up California’s railway and trucking sectors.

Andrea Viduarre is from Inland Empire located in southern California and helped convince the state legislature to approve two transport regulations that would improve air quality. The regulations would not only help to improve air quality in the region but would also be a step in the right direction when moving away from greenhouse gases.

Viduarre was compelled to make a difference as she saw the area she grew up in transform into a railway and trucking hub that connected to some of the busiest ports in the country. The air quality for the Inland Empire is among the worst in the United States because of the constant transportation through the area brought by the ports.

“They blame it on consumerism because we’re shopping online but that’s not the full story. This is very profit-driven, and it’s targeted in communities of color,” said Vidaurre.

The two regulations were named the In-Use Locomotive Rule and the California Advanced Clean Fleets Rule were both adopted last year by the California Air Resource Board. These rules could be very impactful in cleaning up pollution brought on by the transportation sector.

Viduarre and a group of community-based organizers worked together to bring these regulations to fruition. They spent years doing practices to prove their point and showcase the effects of these gasses by taking lawmakers and regulators to the Inland Empire on “toxic tours” so they could experience the pollution themselves.

“It was super impactful that the decision-makers came to the communities to see how close warehouses are to schools, to feel the ground moving from the trains, and see the pile of asthma medications some kids take,” Vidaurre said. “We cannot keep making regulations based on the status quo on what the industry lobbyists say is economically viable, we need solutions that address the problems.”

Some have given pushback on the rules and they are currently facing legal issues and the EPA needs to grant a waiver before they can be implemented.

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