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June 21, 2018


Mari Rose Taruc, 510-258-1878,

Environmental Justice Coalition Calls on California State Lands Commission to Adopt Fair, Inclusive, and Equitable Policies

Sacramento, CA--Today, the Environmental Justice Working Group—a coalition of eight organizations representing environmental justice and Tribal communities throughout the state—released a series of recommendations to support more fair and inclusive management of California's public lands and waters. The recommendations call on the California State Lands Commission to honor the relationship of Indigenous Peoples to state lands, help accelerate a just transition to clean energy, and help reduce the impact transportation and commercial activities have on low-income communities and people of color. "All Californians deserve to live, work and play in a healthy environment, regardless of their zip code. Too many people living in the shadow of freeways, rail lines, ports and power plants are suffering from asthma, heart disease and other illnesses. The State Lands Commission can reduce these harms by promoting clean energy and clean transportation," said Bahram Fazeli, Director of Research and Policy, Communities for a Better Environment.

A three-member panel composed of California's Lieutenant Governor, Controller, and Director of Finance, the State Lands Commission is responsible for managing California's state-owned public lands, waters, and resources for the benefit of all Californians. It exercises authority over a range of key issues such as energy development in state waters and on state-owned lands, public access to coastal and inland waterways, and prevention of marine pollution. The commission is currently updating its Environmental Justice Policy and released an initial draft in May. At today's public meeting in Sonoma, the Environmental Justice Working Group presented its recommendations to strengthen the policy. Working Group members note that the concerns of Native American Tribes, communities of color, and low-income communities have historically been discounted from calculations of "public need" and "public benefit" that determine how state lands and waters are used. The Environmental Justice Working Group is calling for a fundamental shift in the way the State Lands Commission conducts business in low-income and people of color communities.

"Just management of state lands must start with an acknowledgment that these are the ancestral homelands of Native American Tribes, some of which are currently landless. We call on the State Lands Commission to play an active role in reversing decades of policies that have dislocated Native American Tribes, and support land returns, traditional practices, and tribal management as part of a just transition," said Angela Mooney D'Arcy, Executive Director, Sacred Places Institute for Indigenous Peoples.

"California's coastal communities are already overburdened with pollution from Big Oil and Gas companies. We have fought repeatedly to stop refineries and power plants from being built in our backyards. We applaud the State Lands Commission's commitment to environmental justice and urge the commission to use its authority to move California to a fossil fuel-free future with cleaner air and greater coastal access," said Lucas Zucker, Policy and Communications Director, Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy.

The State Lands Commission will accept additional comments on its Draft Environmental Justice Policy on August 23 in Los Angeles and plans to vote on the policy during its October 18 meeting in Sacramento.


Guided by the Principles of Environmental Justice and a recognition that indigenous peoples inhabited these lands before California was established, the Environmental Justice Working Group was convened in early 2018 to develop recommendations for the California State Lands Commission update of its Environmental Justice Policy. The EJWG is comprised of the following eight organizations working with EJ communities throughout California: Azul, Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment, Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy, Communities for a Better Environment, East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, Sacred Places Institute, and WILDCOAST.

Azul (Marce Gutiérrez-Graudiņš is a San Francisco-based statewide organization working with Latinxs to conserve coasts and oceans. Campaigns include reducing plastic pollution, getting more Latinxs in marine advocacy, and protecting and enhancing beach access whenever possible--from advocating for low-cost, family-friendly beach accommodations to ensuring environmental justice is adequately considered within regulatory decisions.

The Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment is a San Joaquin Valley-rooted national environmental justice organization providing legal, organizing, and technical assistance to grassroots groups in low-income communities and communities of color. Campaigns include sustainable agriculture to combat the negative effects of industrial agriculture, climate justice to address the disproportionate impact of climate change on low-income communities and communities of color, community investment and infrastructure for basic public services, and toxic free communities from waste dumps.

Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (Lucas Zucker builds grassroots power to realize social, economic and environmental justice for the people of the California Central Coast Region (the Counties of Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito) through policy research, leadership development, organizing, and advocacy. Campaigns for environmental justice and health equity include fighting for clean air in Oxnard against power plants, stopping a hazardous metal scrapyard, protecting and restoring the Santa Clara River, and organizing for the Westside Community Park in Ventura.

Communities for a Better Environment (Bahram Fazeli builds people's power in California's communities of color and low-income communities to achieve environmental health and justice by preventing and reducing pollution and building green, healthy and sustainable communities and environments. Campaigns include promoting decentralized, local renewable energy production, improving safety at oil refineries, and cleaning up Southern California from power plants, freight pollution, flaring and industrial expansion.

East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice (Taylor Thomas is an environmental health and justice organization working towards a safe and healthy environment for communities that are disproportionately suffering the negative impacts of industrial pollution in the local communities of Southeast Los Angeles and Long Beach. Campaigns include Green Zones land use policy development, I-710 corridor improvement project that safely plans for the region's goods movement growth, and the BNSF Southern California International Gateway (SCIG) railyard that threatens local communities and workers.

Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability is based in the San Joaquin and Eastern Coachella Valleys and works alongside the most impacted communities to advocate for sound policy and eradicate injustice to secure equal access to opportunity regardless of wealth, race, income, and place. Campaigns include healthy land use planning to address community-identified priorities such as increased park space and protection from industrial pollution; access to reliable wastewater and drinking water service; and climate resilience (includes both mitigation and adaptation).

Sacred Places Institute for Indigenous Peoples (Angela Mooney D'Arcy is an Indigenous-led, community-based organization that builds the capacity of Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples to protect sacred lands, waters, and cultures. Campaigns include the Sacred Ecologies Program to respond to threats to sacred places and environmentally sensitive habitats, and the Indigenous Waters Program to protect fresh and salt waters and coastal resources.

WILDCOAST (Paloma Aguirre conserves coastal and marine ecosystems and wildlife. WILDCOAST's Border Program works to conserve over 18,000 acres of coastal ecosystems in the San Diego-Tijuana border region by addressing transboundary sewage, solid waste, and sediment that disproportionately affect south San Diego's low income and minority communities. Campaigns also include protecting mangroves in Mexico and Cuba; managing marine protected areas in California and Blue Carbon initiatives that help mitigate the effects of climate change.