Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D. (CA-36) called on the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to jointly develop a near-term funding plan to restore wildlife habitat along the Salton Sea and prevent toxic dust from federal land from blowing into the surrounding communities. In a letter addressed to the DOI Secretary Deb Haaland, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, and the USACE Assistant Secretary for Civil Works Michael Connor, Dr. Ruiz, Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Alex Padilla (D-CA), and other regional members urged the agencies to fulfill the federal responsibility to protect the health of communities near federally owned land.
“As the Salton Sea shrinks, toxic elements such as arsenic and selenium are exposed on 8.75 square miles of Federally owned lands. When strong desert winds broadly spread this toxic dust, it disproportionately harms the disadvantaged communities surrounding the lake,” Dr. Ruiz and the members wrote. “It is critical for the health and well-being of these communities that we work to mitigate the adverse effects of the receding Salton Sea as quickly as possible.”
Full text of the letter can be found access here.