The ongoing pandemic and climate crisis continue to disproportionately impact the health and livelihood of California's low-income communities and communities of color. The California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA) recently released its 2021 Environmental Justice Scorecard, hgrading California legislators on their 2021 votes on environmental justice issues.
Though there was an increase in 2021 of scoring grades of "A" in CEJA's Scorecard, with 30 legislators earning over 90%, there is still a long way to go. In 2022, we urge our elected leaders to work alongside environmental justice groups to lead California to necessary, transformative solutions to our climate and economic crises.
Deep, systemically racist health and economic injustices existed long before the pandemic. Pollution disproportionately endangers the health and life expectancy of communities of color that already suffer from higher rates of pre-existing medical conditions.
Unless equitable policies are enacted to correct historic environmental racism, exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic and climate crisis, inequities and health disparities will only get worse for California’s Black, Indigenous, and people-of-color communities.
Bipartisan opposition to a state ban on fracking, which focused on the devastating health impacts from oil and gas extraction, was especially disappointing. Legislators from both sides opposed a California ban on fracking which would have created 2,500-foot oil and gas buffer zones and ended fracking.
On the positive side, the Transformative Climate Communities program will allow low-income and communities of color access to more funding for community-led plans. Additionally, funding for the new Community Resilience Centers will provide residents with resources and services to protect their families in the case of flaring events, heatwaves, blackouts, and other climate disasters. The newly created Community Economic Resilience Fund will support regions facing climate change- and COVID 19-related impacts to their economies.
As our state faces extended drought, climate-amplified wildfires, and the ongoing pollution crisis, we need California lawmakers to address long-standing environmental racism with bold, equitable policies for low-income and working-class families across the state who are living on the frontlines of poverty and pollution.
We must voice our disappointment in poor environmental justice voting records and push our representatives to recommit to the communities they represent and the disproportionate suffering they have faced. Contact your legislator now and let them know that equitable legislation to improve our health and quality of life matters to you. Urge them to prioritize and support environmental justice bills and remind them that their failure to do so will not go unnoticed.