Local residents propose environmental laws
Santa Cruz Sierra Club member Ron Pomerantz and Soquel resident Liz Levy were recognized by Senator Joe Simitian as winners in the State Senator’s Oughta Be A Law Contest. Pomerantz, a San Jose Fire Captain, suggested that safe disposal instructions be provided for home smoke alarms which contain Americium, a radioactive byproduct of plutonium.
The result was SB 317, The Fire Alarm Device Collection Act of 2009 which, if passed, would require manufacturers to label smoke detectors with either a toll-free phone number or a website on how to safely dispose of the device.
“I hope that we end up with a safer product and reduce the consequences of ionizing detectors in our environment,” said Pomerantz.
When asked why he chose the proposal, Simitian replied, “Radioactive materials don’t belong in our landfills. It’s just common sense.” California already has similar laws in place for mercury and other toxins.
Levy, a long-time resident of Soquel, grew concerned about the environmental threat of commuter traffic. Forty percent of state emissions come from vehicles, making this the biggest contributor to global warming in the state. Levy sought a solution that could reverse this trend without breaking the state’s budget. Based on a successful Washington state program, she proposed creating tax incentives for employers who succeed in motivating employees to reduce traffic gridlock.
The resultant Vehicle Trip Reduction bill, SB 425, would create a program that gives businesses an incentive to engage in substantive commute reductions. The bill aims to reduce the number of cars on the road and the amount of time drivers spend on their commute.
The key to success, Simitian emphasized, is incentives. “Observation tells us that too many of us are still driving solo, even if that means sitting in traffic. We need to figure out what motivates us to get out of our cars, and provide incentives to encourage that effort. That’s what this bill will do.”
Both bills are currently before the State Legislature.