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Hilda Solis on Environment

Democratic Representative (CA-32)


Profile in Courage award for environmental justice

In "Profiles in Courage", my father told the stories of eight senators who acted on principle and in the national interest, even though it put their own political careers at risk. The John F. Kennedy Profiles in Courage Award is presented annually to an elected official who carries on this tradition. We sought to honor politicians like those in the original book, whose singular acts of courage in protecting the national interest put their own career at risk.Former California State Senator, now U.S. Representative Hilda Solis, who brought the issue of environmental justice to the forefront on behalf of the people of her ravaged district, exemplifies this kind of courage.
Source: Profiles In Courage For Our Time, by Caroline Kennedy Apr 30, 2003

1995: Enviro justice bill passed CA Congress, but vetoed

In 1994, Solis was the first Latina senator in the history of the state; she was also, at 37, the youngest senator. As a member of the senate's Natural Resources Committee, Solis began laying the groundwork for her comprehensive environmental justice legislation, Senate Bill 115. She was stunned at the level of opposition she faced. The corporation and business lobbies pulled out all the stops: "I suddenly found myself pushing against the oil, gas, and waste companies--big money, big business. The Chamber of Commerce came out against the bill."

And yet Solis was able to marshal enough support in both the assembly and the senate to get the bill passed. This bill, however, was promptly vetoed by Governor Pete Wilson, who stated, somewhat disingenuously, that he did not think the California Environmental Quality Act (an environmental law already on the books, to which SB 115 would be an emendation) should "become a vehicle for social movements." [The bill finally passed in 1998].

Source: Profiles in Courage, by Caroline Kennedy, p.285-286 Oct 1, 2001

Proudest achievement: San Gabriel Conservancy

Solis fought for conservancy bills such as SB 216, which created open space and urban parks, and SB 244, which provided for the future re-utilization of mining pits. Solis counts another such bill, which formed the San Gabriel Conservancy, as her proudes single achievement. This conservancy will create parks, restore land, and buy open space along the San Gabriel River; Solis lobbied and negotiated for three years to satisfy all the towns, citizen groups, and business interests involved.
Source: Profiles in Courage, by Caroline Kennedy, p.288 Oct 1, 2001

1990s: At forefront of environmental justice movement

In western L.A., the zip code of 90210, there are exactly zero landfills, no gravel pits, and no power or chemical plants. In eastern L.A., zip code 91706, are a water table so polluted it has been a Superfund site for 20 years, power plants, chemical factories, 17 gravel pits, and 5 landfills.

In the late 1990s, Hilda Solis was working at the forefront of the emerging environmental justice movement, which concerns itself with what has been called "the intersection of race and space" in American society. "There are laws to protect endangered species," Solis has stated, "but no laws to protect less powerful and less protected communities from becoming environmental dumping grounds." In championing this cause Solis would face intense opposition from entrenched and monied corporate interests. But the issue seems clear-cut, and the conflicts engendered by it nearly Solomonic: as Solis has stated, "Don't we all want the same things for our children? Clean air, clean water, open space?"

Source: Profiles in Courage, by Caroline Kennedy, p.269-271 Oct 1, 2001

Voted YES on environmental education grants for outdoor experiences.

Congressional Summary:

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. JOHN SARBANES (D, MD-3): This bill creates a new National Capacity Environmental Education grant program for which education associations apply competitively for grants that would fund model programs that get children into nature and really have them experiencing the environment.

Rep. BUCK McKEON (R, CA-25): This bill incorporates scientifically-based and technology-driven teaching methods into environmental education. Unfortunately, the new National Capacity Environmental Education Program is duplicative of the existing environmental education program already being run by the EPA. Still, I do not intend to oppose its passage.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. MICHELE BACHMANN (R, MN-6): H.R. 3036 continues our Nation down the ill-fated road of shifting control of school curricula away from the parents and teachers and local school boards who best know what their children need into the hands of Federal Government and its one-size-fits-all approach. To best serve our children's educational needs, local school boards need flexibility to target resources where they are needed most. The needs of individual school districts are not homogenous and are most certainly not best understood by bureaucrats in Washington. This bill represents a step in the wrong direction. Forcing local school districts to direct scarce resources away from core curricula to serve a political agenda will only further suppress the academic performance of America's next generation.

Reference: No Child Left Inside Act; Bill H.R.3036 ; vote number 2008-H614 on Sep 18, 2008

Voted YES on $9.7B for Amtrak improvements and operation thru 2013.

Congressional Summary: