2023
ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE SCORECARD

California’s frontline communities remain under significant pressure, as the climate crisis continues to disproportionately impact the health and livelihoods of low-income and Black, Latino, and Asian American and Pacific Islander residents. The weakness of the California Legislature’s response to this reality is reflected in the recently released 2023 Environmental Justice Scorecard from the California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA), which graded state legislators on their 2023 votes on environmental justice-related legislation.

In this year’s scorecard, over 40% of California Assemblymembers and nearly 50% of State Senators received a grade of “D” or "F" on their CEJA review. While these numbers remain unacceptable, there was in fact some improvement, as nearly three times as many legislators received an "A" grade compared to the 2022 scorecard and several important environmental justice bills were passed. However, those successes did not outweigh the negative impact of legislators voting against bills that would create transformative solutions to our climate and economic crises.

DISPROPORTIONATE IMPACTS ON COMMUNITIES OF COLOR

Deep, systemically racist health and economic injustices continue to plague California’s communities. 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, environmentally just policies are enacted to correct historic environmental racism—exacerbated by the ongoing climate crisis—inequities and health disparities will only get worse for California’s communities of color.

HOPEFUL PROGRESS, BUT MAJOR CHALLENGES CONTINUE

In 2023, grassroots action from environmental justice advocates and engaged communities of color saw 10 environmental justice bills pass the legislature with six signed by the governor into law. The new legislation will increase transparency and hold oil and gas companies accountable for price gouging amidst their record profits at the expense of California families. Similarly in 2024, a November ballot initiative to uphold the ban on the construction of new oil and gas wells within 3,200 feet of our homes, schools, nursing homes, and hospitals will protect California’s most vulnerable populations from the oil and gas companies polluting in their neighborhoods.

While these measures will positively impact the health and livelihood of all Californians, in last year’s legislative session it still proved difficult to achieve commonplace health protections in the legislature without making significant concessions to industries that could well undermine positive outcomes.

READ THE SCORECARD

As our state faces extended drought, climate-amplified wildfire, and an ongoing pollution and health crisis, California lawmakers must 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.

Read CEJA's 2023 Scorecard and voice your disappointment about poor environmental justice voting records and help drive our representatives to recommit to the communities they represent and the reverse the disproportionate suffering faced by their residents. Contact your legislator now and let them know that taking actions to improve our health and quality of life matters to you. Urge them to prioritize and support environmental justice and remind them that their failure to do so will not go unnoticed.