CBE Moves California and the Nation Toward Clean Renewable Energy
Communities for a Better Environment is a leading environmental justice organization in California, a state that provides unique opportunities to effect social change. The world looks to California for innovation. That puts CBE in a prime spot to help create and support cutting-edge global warming, energy and other environmental justice policies. Neighborhood organizing enables CBE’s 2013 policy priorities to play out at the local, state and national levels.
Renewable energy uses sources that replenish themselves—wind, solar, water, geo-thermal.
Renewables are the world’s energy future. Consider that:
- Burning fossil fuels—coal and petroleum–produces pollution and damages human health–asthma, cardiovascular problems, cancer.
- Burning fossil fuels produces greenhouse gases that trap heat and accelerate climate change.
- As supplies become depleted, fossil fuels become more difficult, costly, and environmentally damaging to extract.
- California’s 2011 energy policy required 33% of the state’s energy supply to be renewable by 2020—provided by solar and wind power.
CBE was part of shaping California’s ambitious 2011 energy policy: 33% of the state’s energy supply must be renewable by 2020—provided by solar and wind power.
CBE and its allies support a renewable energy strategy that would benefit these habitats and our local urban communities together—it calls for efficient and affordable power development and distribution that is equitable and democratically-controlled, not held by energy monopolies.
- Decentralized, local energy production—In 2011, Governor Jerry Brown initiated a program to design 12,000 megawatts of Distributed Generation—a term for a system that generates electricity from small, local energy sources instead of large centralized energy plants that power most municipalities. These small projects can be built in low-income urban and rural areas, without costly and often destructive transmission lines.
- Statewide coalition-building—Only a strong grassroots voice can win an equitable and locally-controlled renewable energy structure. In addition to being a founding organization of the California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA), CBE has joined with the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, the Environmental Health Coalition, mainstream environmental organizations, green jobs advocates, local business interests, and energy experts to help achieve a model renewable energy system for California.
- Legal advocacy—CBE’s legal team’s work at the California Public Utilities Commission is aimed at preventing construction of new fossil fuel energy projects and advocating for policies that support local decentralized renewable energy distributed generation projects.
- CBE and CEJA are working to ensure that the state’s new clean energy infrastructure benefits those most affected by fossil fuel pollution in their neighborhoods.
What is a Green Zone? Groups around the country are working to create green zones in their communities, so the definitions can vary by community. Picture a Green Zone as a neighborhood gradually transformed from a highly polluted, blighted area to a vibrant community with reduced pollution, clean energy sources, expanded green spaces, and greener business practices and a stronger economic future.
CBE’s Green Zone effort is carried out in tandem with the California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA), a statewide network of grassroots organizations. The Green Zone Project is an effort to transform some of the poorest and most polluted communities in California by:
- Preventing new pollution projects from locating in these communities;
- Reducing pollution through strict enforcement and helping local businesses to “green up”;
- Greening these communities by creating more parks, community gardens and urban farms, and developing green businesses and jobs.
The Green Zones Project would create a federal designation for California neighborhoods or clusters of neighborhoods that face the cumulative impacts of environmental, social, political and economic vulnerability—the Green Zone designation would help the areas gain access to support to reduce local pollution and boost economic development.
CBE and CEJA are working with state and federal agencies to get support for the California Green Zone campaign. But they also work with local Green Zone efforts that include strong community-based projects in National City (near San Diego), and Los Angeles (“Clean Up-Green Up“), and the Central Valley. Other projects are being planned for San Francisco, Richmond, and Riverside/San Bernardino.
“Green zone” is a concept that continues to gain momentum in the national environmental movement. The discussion of green zones was a central theme at a national environmental justice conference convened at the White House in December 2010, and Environmental Protection Agency officials continue to support local community efforts to create green zones in areas beset by an accumulation of pollution sources.