CA Environmental Justice Alliance Action Announces 2021 Legislative Agenda

Oil and gas safety buffer zones and community resilience investments lead the 2021 EJ agenda 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Isa Flores-Jones | isa@caleja.org

Sacramento, California  | April 20, 2021 – On Tuesday, the California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA) Action announced its priority bills for the 2021 Legislative session. As the state enters the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, CEJA Action is prioritizing a health and safety buffer zone between homes and to neighborhood oil drilling in California with SB 467 (Wiener and Limon), and critical investments in clean energy infrastructure with AB 1087 (Chiu). 

CEJA Action is adopting supporting positions on SB 222 and 223 (Dodd),to ensure access to clean and affordable drinking water to low-income Californians; SB 342 (González), to add two environmental justice board members to the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD); and AB 339 (Lee), to ensure that all local agency meetings are accessible to frontline residents.

Read more about our priority bills here at ceja-action.org. 

“California cannot claim to be a climate leader while it continues the dangerous practice of oil drilling next to where people live, work, learn, and play,” said Martha Dina Arguello, Executive Director with Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles “We must make protecting community health a real priority. A 2,500 foot health and safety buffer is the minimum we can do to ensure communities are protected from dangerous emissions from oil and gas production that include exposure to reproductive toxins, endocrine disruptors, respiratory irritants and cancer causing chemicals. SB 467 is a necessary first step to protect the health and well-being of Black, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander and Indigenous communities in our state from the impacts of harmful drilling.” 

“California must invest in the health and wellbeing of frontline communities before climate disasters hit,” said Amee Raval, Research Director with Asian Pacific Environmental Network, “That’s why APEN and CEJA are identifying AB 1087 as a 2021 environmental justice priority. Through a comprehensive grant program, the Resilience Hubs bill provides holistic whole building clean energy and health upgrades in critical community institutions – like libraries, senior centers, or schools. These places transform into resilience hubs, spaces where our communities can go for shelter, backup power, emergency food, critical information, and connection.”

“Access to safe and affordable water is a human right in California, yet drinking water is unaffordable for most low-income households, and half a million people lost access to tap water due to shut off in both 2018 and 2019. SB 222 and 223 would help to make water more affordable and better protect access to water for families struggling to keep up with water bills,” said Michael Claiborne, Directing Attorney at Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability.

“Equity and justice cannot be peripheral aspects of the public participation process. A truly democratic society insists that these values are centered,” said Olivia Seideman, Civic Engagement Coordinator with the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, “Geographic, linguistic, and other impediments have long prevented people from engaging meaningfully with their local officials, but the COVID-19 pandemic has proven that we have the technology and capacity to take down those barriers. AB 339 expands access to historically marginalized communities, a policy change that is long overdue.”

“We greatly appreciate the leadership of Senator Gonzalez in proposing SB 342 and recognizing that Air Quality Management Districts (AQMD) needs to start listening to and addressing the needs of working class communities of color by putting in place aggressive health protective policies,” said Bahram Fazeli, Director of Research and Policy at Communities for a Better Environment. “This can only be done by reforming AQMD at the top and adding environmental justice voices to the Board.”

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CEJA Action is a statewide, community-led alliance that works to achieve environmental justice by advancing policy and electoral solutions. We unite the powerful local organizing and political power of our members in the communities most impacted by environmental hazards – low-income communities and communities of color – to create comprehensive opportunities for change at a statewide level. Together, we are growing the statewide movement for environmental health and social justice. Read more at ceja-action.org. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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