70 Groups Unite in Battle Against Pollution

Times Staff Writer

More than 70 labor, environmental and neighborhood groups have formed a statewide coalition to mount a coordinated attack on toxic pollution in the air, water and in the home and workplace, it was announced Tuesday.

“We’re tired of hearing about piecemeal solutions to toxic problems. We have developed a unified position,” Lawrie Mott, senior project scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council, told reporters at a Los Angeles City Hall press conference.

Formed in part to offset lobbying by business and industrial interests, the new Toxics Coordinating Project, leaders said, will concentrate efforts in four broad public policy areas:

- The prevention of toxic pollution before it occurs, such as by supporting laws that would require industry to use less toxic substances in manufacturing.

- The expansion of right-to-know laws that would enable citizens to become better informed about the presence of toxic chemicals in their areas.


- Greater citizen participation in the formulation of environmental policies.

- Passage of a “bill of rights” for those injured by toxic chemicals, including liability laws holding polluters strictly responsible for damages.

The group said it plans to meet next month in Los Angeles to develop “action plans” for implementing its goals.

Michael Picker of the Toxic Coordinating Project said, “We have come to the point, in terms of the crisis in California, that we feel the need to form an official coalition and announce that we are here and that we are a force to be reckoned with. . . .”

Penny Newman, chairwoman of Concerned Citizens in Action, added, “We have seen at the community level that the only time you get significant action is when the community pushes, and I think this coalition is here to say we’re going to push.”

Concerned Citizens in Action was organized following the disclosure that toxic pollutants from the Stringfellow Acid Pits in Riverside County were contaminating local ground water.

Among the groups that have joined the toxics project are the California League of Conservation Voters, California Public Interest Research Group, California Rural Legal Assistance, Campaign for Economic Democracy, Citizens for a Better Environment, Coalition for Clean Air, Federated Firefighters of California, AFL-CIO; Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Health Coalition of San Diego, Greenpeace, and United Farm Workers of America.