Through a concerted and coordinated effort, Republicans and local elected officials who back corporate interests have been able to gain a majority on the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) Board and dilute tough regulations on toxic air emissions.

Many of the decisions made by the board have serious, real life consequences that affect the health, safety, and future of nearly half the population of California.

“There has been a clear effort by Republicans, who have been losing power at the state level for decades, to gain a stronger hold at the local level. One of their first orders of business appears to be to change the AQMD’s direction.”

— Los Angeles Daily News

“There has been a clear effort by Republicans, who have been losing power at the state level for decades, to gain a stronger hold at the local level. One of their first orders of business appears to be to change the AQMD’s direction.”

— Los Angeles Daily News

“The refineries are among the worst-polluting facilities in the Southland, which has the dirtiest air in the United States. But that didn’t stop the board from rejecting on Dec. 4 a clean-air plan worked out by its staff over 37 months and substituting a plan made public that very morning, developed by the Western States Petroleum Assn., a refinery lobbying group.”

— Los Angeles Times

Significant SCAQMD Decisions:​

The day after President Donald Trump exited the Paris Climate Change Accords, the SCAQMD announced that it would allow petroleum behemoth Marathon Oil to create the largest refinery on the West Coast in Los Angeles County.

The SCAQMD sided with oil company lobbyists and rejected a plan that would have prevented polluters from dumping massive amounts of nitrogen oxide into the air - which is a major contributor to asthma causing smog and heat island effects.

The SCAQMD issued permits for an oil company to drill 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to complete 540 oil wells in the middle of a small neighborhood. The drilling site was next to a baseball field and surrounded by small single family homes and apartment buildings.

who are they?

The Fossil Fuel Four: Who are the Politicians Protecting Polluters?

Funded by:

  • California Independent Petroleum Association
  • E&B Natural Resources Management Corporation
  • American Chemistry Council
  • California Resources Corporation
  • Pacific Coast Energy Company

Source: Los Angeles City Ethics Commission

Joe Buscaino

Joe Buscaino represents the 15th district on the Los Angeles City Council and is Mayor Garcetti’s appointment to the SCAQMD. Buscaino regularly sides with oil interests against the need for healthy air. Buscaino’s ties to oil interests are so close that he supported a last minute nitrogen oxide emissions regulation developed by oil companies that was so lax that “it might well violate state and federal regulations.”

As the representative of San Pedro, a neighborhood in the southern portion of the City of Los Angeles, you would think Buscaino would be more sensitive to the enormous environmental effects his district experiences.

San Pedro is an epicenter of the need for environmental justice, due to its largely low-income and minority residents living in extremely close proximity to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and the largest oil refineries and storage facilities on the entire West Coast of North America. Just living in close proximity to these major sources of pollution increases the risk of cancer and asthma.

Buscaino has built alliances with oil interests and major polluters throughout his time as a city council member, and his corporate ties are even more evident looking at campaign finance reports.

Funded by:

  • California Independent Petroleum Association
  • E&B Natural Resources Management Corporation
  • American Chemistry Council
  • California Resources Corporation
  • Pacific Coast Energy Company

Source: Los Angeles City Ethics Commission

Janice Rutherford

Janice Rutherford represents the 2nd district on the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors and is the San Bernardino County representative on the SCAQMD. Rutherford is a reliable vote for big polluters on the board.

San Bernardino County is experiencing rapid growth as a logistics and transportation hub for the greater Southern California region. This explosive growth has caused many neighboring communities to experience endless diesel emission exposure leading to increases in asthma and other health effects.

According to the American Lung Association, If you live in San Bernardino County, the air you breathe may put your health at risk.

But this hasn’t stopped Rutherford from siding with billion dollar oil interests that are some of the worst polluters in Southern California. Rutherford supported a proposal backed by oil companies that gutted a previous plan to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions regulation that was so weak and friendly to the industry that a staff analysis concluded it may not be legally defensible if challenged.

Rutherford has also supported relaxed regulations on sources of pollution, like transportation, trucking, oil refineries, and other sources of air pollution.

Funded by:

  • Tesoro Refinery
  • Marathon Petroleum
  • Sempra Energy
  • BNSF Rail
  • California Steel Industries
  • Western Aerosol Information Bureau
  • Mitsubishi Cement Corporation
  • Burrtec Waste
  • Inland Empire Disposal Association PAC

Source: Los Angeles City Ethics Commission

Funded by:

  • Tesoro Refinery
  • Marathon Petroleum
  • Sempra Energy
  • BNSF Rail
  • California Steel Industries
  • Western Aerosol Information Bureau
  • Mitsubishi Cement Corporation
  • Burrtec Waste
  • Inland Empire Disposal Association PAC

Source: San Bernardino County Online Campaign Disclosure System

Funded by:

  • Chevron Corporation
  • Sempra Energy
  • Waste Management

Source: Orange County Campaign Finance Info

Lisa Bartlett

Lisa Bartlett represents the 5th district on the Orange County Board of Supervisors and is the Orange County representative on the SCAQMD. Bartlett consistently takes the side of corporate interests instead of Southern California families on the SCAQMD board.

While adjacent to the coast and its on-shore breezes, Orange County recorded the worst day of toxic air pollution in September of 2020 with an 8-hour average recording of 123 ppb at Mission Viejo.

Bartlett’s close ties to oil and energy corporations will benefit her campaign coffers.

Funded by:

  • Tesoro Refinery
  • Marathon Petroleum
  • Sempra Energy
  • BNSF Rail
  • California Steel Industries
  • Western Aerosol Information Bureau
  • Mitsubishi Cement Corporation
  • Burrtec Waste
  • Inland Empire Disposal Association PAC

Source: San Bernardino County Online Campaign Disclosure System

Larry Mccallon

Larry McCallon represents the City of Highland as Mayor and was elected by the mayors of the 16 cities in San Bernardino County to serve on the SCAQMD starting in 2015. A consistent vote for corporate interests, McCallon supports lax regulations on oil refineries on other polluters.

McCallon is a self-identified “conservative evangelical” and he is involved in the state councils of the California Republican Party.

Take Action

You can make a difference

What is the South Coast Air Quality Management District?

Learn more about the SCAQMD and how it functions.

Politicians Protecting Polluters is proudly funded by California Environmental Voters (formerly CLCV). Since 1972, EnviroVoters has protected and enhanced the land, air, water, and health of all California communities by electing environmental champions, advancing critical state and federal legislation, and holding policymakers accountable to combating the effects of our catastrophic climate crisis.