Morning Report: San Diegans Exposed to Higher Cancer-Causing Toxins Than Most Californians
Ahhhh… San Diego, the land of crisp and clean salty sea breezes. Not necessarily so, as Voice of San Diego’s MacKenzie Elmer reveals in a new story.
As it happens, San Diego’s regional air pollution regulator has basically never forced industries that emit toxic, cancer-causing pollutants to clean up their act. That’s because the governing board of San Diego’s Air Pollution Control District has left the region’s Toxic Air Contaminant Health Risk threshold dangerously high and unchanged for decades.
Right now, businesses in San Diego can spew toxins at a rate that increases the chance of contracting cancer above 100 in one million. So, potentially, if one million people were equally exposed to the exact same concentrations of pollutants from a facility, one hundred of them could contract cancer. Now, that’s not a realistic scenario because people live much further from many of these sources — which we’ve mapped out for you here — plus things like weather and wind patterns affect where these pollutants drift around.
But if you live in Barrio Logan, chances of being exposed to cancer-causing pollutants are much higher than many other places in the city because that’s where many of these businesses emitting toxins at the highest cancer-causing rate exist.
It’s another classic example of what’s known as environmental racism: Dirtier industries generally pop up around where American governments permitted people of color and lower income to live, historically. But the rest of San Diego isn’t really off the hook. Industries emitting high levels of toxins are scattered throughout the region in areas like Miramar, Allied Gardens, Otay Mesa and Santee.
The San Diego Air Pollution Control District has for decades been ruled by the county Board of Supervisors, which did little to change any of these air pollution regulations. Not anymore. On Nov. 4, the new, larger and more diverse board will consider forcing industries to cut their cancer-causing emissions tenfold. But big San Diego businesses, like the shipbuilding industry and the U.S. Navy, are already putting up a fight.
Peters Makes a Deal
While a lot of attention has fallen on two Democratic U.S. senators who have refused to endorse the president and their colleagues’ plans for a historic spending bill on child care, the child tax credits, home care, clean energy, and other “human infrastructure,” U.S. Rep. Scott Peters has been holding out similarly in the House of Representatives. He has concerns about one part of the legislation that would tax drug makers heavily if they don’t make better deals when they sell prescription medicines to the U.S. government through Medicare.
Scott Lewis wrote about the incredibly tense position Peters has found himself in.
Tuesday, though, Peters had news: He announced he had helped broker a deal between the hesitant senators, Democratic leadership and the president that would allow the government to negotiate some drug prices. In the deal, only the price of drugs outside their exclusive periods — the time when their patents prevent other companies from copying them — could be negotiated.
For those drugs that the government can negotiate the prices of, the harsh tax Peters feared can only come to play if the drug companies do not negotiate in “good faith.”
The president announced the compromise had made it into his plan for the spending bill — the biggest of its kind since the New Deal.
Related: It is unclear if the president can pull Democrats together to pass the bill and when, or if, they will all pass the large bipartisan infrastructure spending bill that is caught up in the negotiations as well. San Diego Rep. Sara Jacobs has been part of the progressive caucus uncomfortably watching the bill get whittled down as priorities like paid family leave were dropped. She was on MSNBC Tuesday and she said she and her allies trust the president when he says he can get 51 senators to vote for it.
As for drug prices?
“I’m in favor of what was originally in the House bill,” she said.
Gloria: Shelter Intakes Up After Beds Sat Empty
Last week, our Lisa Halverstadt reported that nearly three dozen homeless shelter beds controlled by San Diego police sat empty during a rainstorm at a time when demand for shelter had already been rising.
Mayor Todd Gloria’s office on Tuesday took to Twitter to announce that the situation has improved.
City officials have yet to answer Halverstadt’s questions about why so many shelter beds sat empty last week or to her request for an update on changes the city appears to have made to move more homeless San Diegans into shelter since early last week.
Related: The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a long-term plan to tackle San Diego’s growing homelessness crisis that includes community partnerships and a focus on racial and social equity.
In Other News
- Redevelopment of a long-abandoned restaurant in Hillcrest is causing a ruckus. We wrote about Pernicano’s back in 2018. (San Diego Reader)
- Tuesday marked the deadline for San Diego city workers to be vaccinated, but the deadline was pushed back to Dec. 1 to allow extra time for labor negotiations. (Los Angeles Times)
- Meanwhile, KUSI is reporting that unvaccinated cops are worried about losing their jobs. (KUSI)
- A huge atmospheric river dropped 7.6 trillion gallons of rain across the state but didn’t bust the drought. (Union-Tribune)
- A case of tuberculosis, a highly contagious infection passed by coughing or sneezing, cropped up at Metropolitan Correctional Center in San Diego. (County News Center)
- Construction began on San Diego International Airport’s $3.4 billion facelift to Terminal 1. (Union-Tribune)
- San Diego will be the only large city in California to keep its public meetings entirely online. (Union-Tribune)
- The city of San Diego and the Padres baseball team extended their negotiation deadline over the sale of a four-block parking lot known as Tailgate Park. (Union-Tribune)
This Morning Report was written by MacKenzie Elmer, Lisa Halverstadt and Scott Lewis. It was edited by Megan Wood.