East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice info@eycej.org 323.263.2113

“Our communities have waited long enough…” a Testimony by Taylor Thomas

This past Thursday April 23, 2015, Community Organizer Taylor Thomas took a trip to Sacramento to share her comments on the Sustainable Freight Strategy draft to tell the California Air Resources Board to take immediate action to reduce pollution from rail yards.The Sustainable Freight Strategy draft is a long term plan to make freight hubs (ports, rail-yards, airports etc.) more sustainable and how can California Air Resources Board make them as green as possible. Below is Taylor’s testimony:

TT Pix

“Hello Board chair, board members, and staff.

My name is Taylor Thomas, I’m a resident of Long Beach and with East

Yard Communities for Environmental Justice and the California Cleaner

Freight Coalition.

While you’ve received copies of our letters regarding the draft Sustainable

Freight Strategy, I’m not here to go over them line by line as other coalition

members have outlined our concerns, but rather I want to underscore the

importance of the need for this Board to take immediate action to reduce

pollution from rail yards.

The last time I spoke here a few months ago, I talked to my experience of

growing up near major pollution sources and the impacts that had on my

health. But today I’m here on behalf of the people who could not be here to

give testimony.

I’m here for the families that have to keep their windows closed because

trains idle a few yards from their homes; I’m here for the teachers and

playground aides that keep bags of inhalers ready for when, not if but

when, a child has an asthma attack; I’m here for the nurses and doctors

that see their patients come in with chronic respiratory illnesses ­ not

knowing how to treat them or what to prescribe to them ­ and what could

they possibly give them knowing that they’ll return to the areas and air that

is making them sick? They want to tell them to move, but this simply isn’t

an option for most people.

Research supports that the communities that bare a disproportionate

burden of air pollution are low­income and communities of color. Even if

people could afford to move, the question is why should they? We have a

right to a safe and healthy environment. We have a right to clean air.

So we’re calling on you to take immediate action. We want to see the

measures outlined in our formal comment letter like: in­yard rail equipment,

such as yard trucks and cranes, changed to electric (there is already zero

emission and CNG tech available for these), enhanced truck and

locomotive inspections, and the installation of the Advanced Locomotive

Emissions Control System at the maintenance facilities where locomotives


Our communities have waited long enough, so we need you to stand up for

us. The Board has said that rail yards would be addressed in the

Sustainable Freight Strategy, but that didn’t happen. This fight for clean air

is not about me, it’s not about you ­ it’s about the families and communities

that are suffering the consequences of this Board not taking action. Thank