Returning last night on a jet from Washington, D.C., the Executive Director of the Sacramento Regional Air Quality Management District Larry Greene, the Environmental Manager for Teichert Aggregates Becky Wood, and the CEO of Breathe California of Sacramento Emigrant Trails, Kori Titus, talked about what they accomplished and insights gained during the 5-day Capitol to Capitol Trip, hosted by the Sacramento Metro Chamber. Nearly 300 attended the event, and over 240 meetings were held in 5 days with the Congress, Senate, and Administration. The Air Quality Team was one of a dozen teams that advanced issues of concern to policy makers there. Here's what they said:
Q. Now in its 41st year, what made this year's "Cap to Cap" trip different from the rest?
Greene: On a negative side, the difficulties in D.C. with the budget and partisanship cast a shadow over every conversation. On a positive side, I think our Air Quality Team and process gets more effective each year and our positive attitude and success stories were welcome news in the context of Washington, D.C. today.
Q. In your view, what was the major accomplishment in 2011 and why?
Greene: Receiving the news about the 1-Hour attainment letter signed by the EPA Region IX Administrator on Monday moved us toward attaining that standard in a way that benefits our business community. (Click here to learn more.) On a less global note I think our meetings with EPA were excellent, and our work to ensure CMAQ (Congestion Mitigation Air Quality) funding remains in the Transportation program were important.
Titus: Showcasing the innovative solutions we have pioneered in the region. We were able to show key decision makers that we can deliver on, and exceed, our promises. I believe that from these discussions Sacramento will be the first region thought of when new programs need to be tested and resources are made available.
Q. Why does Cap to Cap matter to the Air District? How and why does it advance your interests?
Greene: For each of the issue areas that are key to attaining our air quality standards, having the support of the Cap to Cap regional team enhances our ability to get attention, resources and resolution to issues. Cap to Cap gets us in doors that would otherwise be unavailable. Cap to Cap also provides the forum to find issue areas where we can enhance options that provide solutions to multiple regional issues.
Q. What are the lessons you took away from Washington, D.C., this year?
Wood: It is as important to listen some years as much as it is to talk and inform. We listened to the concerns voiced about the direction the country is headed and hopefully can come back with positions that work within the current funding constraints faced by the country.
Q. What was the significance of this year's trip, in your estimation?
Titus: Cap to Cap was a chance to share the air quality successes of the Sacramento Region with our elected leaders and key departments. It was also an opportunity to showcase how we can leverage resources and work together to overcome the challenges we continue to face.
Q. What's next?
Titus: We have to continue to work collectively in our region if we have any hope of achieving the challenging air quality goals we face. We need to continue to think out of the box, particularly as resources become scarce. And we have to fight to keep the funding we need flowing to the local level so that we can have healthy air for our children and grandchildren.
To check out the six policy issues carried by the dozen team members on the Air Quality Team, click here. For more information, contact Bill Mueller, Cleaner Air Partnership manager and co-leader of the team in 2011.