Calif. Officials Honored for Efforts to Protect Public Health and Environment

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For Immediate Release: 
Thursday, November 18, 2010

Oakland, Calif. – Six dedicated public servants will be honored tonight in San Francisco for their shared commitment to protecting the health and environment of Californians.

Environmental Working Group will present its 2010 Environmental Champions Award to Senators Fran Pavley (District 23), Mark Leno (District 3) and Ellen Corbett (District 10), Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (District 41) and outgoing San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Debbie Raphael of the San Francisco Dept. of the Environment.

The recipients have shown that they are true environmental leaders in California. They have authored measures to get toxic chemicals out of baby bottles, children’s jewelry, food packaging and schools, to curb greenhouse gas emissions, to require disclosure of water quality information on bottled water and to shrink the use of single-use plastic bags, to name a few.

In the City of San Francisco, a Newsom-backed initiative to provide consumers with the radiation emissions levels of wireless devices at the point of sale became law – the first of its kind anywhere in the world. Sen. Leno worked to get a similar statewide bill through the legislature but came up against a withering and well-financed lobbying effort by the wireless industry.

“While the commitment to public health and the environment may not be on the front burner in Washington these days, tonight’s recipients are proof that it’s alive and well in California,” said EWG President Ken Cook, who made the presentations at a dinner hosted by the organization. “Taking on the chemical companies, bottled water makers and the wireless industry has proven to be tough fights, but these folks aren’t afraid to do battle on behalf of California families.”

EWG’s honorees:

Sen. Fran Pavley’s district includes cities in both Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Serving in the State Assembly, Pavley wrote two landmark laws to combat climate change by limiting greenhouse gas emissions in California, AB 32 and the “Pavley” law, which regulates tailpipe emissions from automobiles. In 2010, she drafted legislation that would have banned bisphenol A (BPA) in baby bottles, sippy cups and food and formula containers. The bill failed on the Senate floor in the last hours of the two-year session after the chemical and pharmaceutical industries spent millions on lobbyists. Also in 2010, Sen. Pavley authored a bill that would ban the heavy metal cadmium in children’s jewelry. It passed both houses and was signed by Gov. Schwarzenegger.

Sen. Mark Leno represents the 3rd Senate District encompassing all of Marin County and parts of Sonoma and San Francisco counties. He previously served in the Assembly and spent 4½ years on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Sen. Leno sponsored right-to-know cell phone legislation that would have required disclosure of radiation levels at the point of sale statewide. He also authored two bills that would have restricted the use of certain flame-retardant chemicals and won passage of AB 2573, which reformed California law to allow San Francisco’s municipal utilities to install solar energy systems anywhere they are needed.

Sen. Ellen Corbett represents the 10th Senate District, located on the east side of San Francisco Bay. In 2007, the governor signed into law her bill requiring bottled water producers to provide essential water quality information to consumers and to list the source of their water on the bottle label. In 2008, she offered a bill that would have prohibited the manufacture, sale or distribution of any substance comes into contact with food and contains perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) in concentrations exceeding 10 parts per billion; it was vetoed. This year (2010), her bill updating existing toy safety statutes to reflect changes in federal law, regulations and standards regarding toxic content was signed into law.

Assemblyperson Julia Brownley represents the 41st district that includes Santa Monica and parts of Los Angeles and Ventura counties. A former teacher, she now serves as chairwoman of the Education Committee. Legislation she introduced in 2009 would have required public and private schools with 50 students or more in grades K thru 12 to purchase certified green cleaning products by 2010-11. Unfortunately, the bill died in committee. In 2010, for the third straight year, Ms. Brownley worked to ban single-use plastic bags. This measure, which would have barred stores from handing out single-use plastic or paper bags, was defeated by a tidal wave of lobbying money spent by the plastics industry.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, now lieutenant governor-elect of California, became concerned about the potential health effects of cell phone radiation and took action. With assistance from Debbie Raphael and the rest of her team at the San Francisco Department of the Environment, Mayor Newsom became the first elected official anywhere in the world to win passage of a right-to-know ordinance regarding cell phone radiation. As a result, every retailer within the city limits will soon have to provide that information to the customer at the point of sale.

As this year’s EWG 2010 Environmental Champions, each honoree will receive a personally inscribed, 27-ounce, BPA-free, steel reusable water bottle courtesy of manufacturers Klean Kanteen.


EWG is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment.