What’s New

NEW BLOG: Black History Month

(Read full blog) Communities for a Better Environment honors and celebrates the countless achievements, contributions and sacrifices that Black Americans have made throughout U.S. hxstory, as well as the lived and shared experiences of Black Americans and African Americans that have shaped the world, our society, and culture as we know it.

NEW BLOG: No Drilling Where We’re Living- The Los Angeles City Council Voted to Phase Out Oil Drilling

After decades of grassroots organizing, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously voted to phase out oil drilling throughout the City of Los Angeles. (Read full blog)

Community group sues East Oakland’s AB&I Foundry for violating Prop 65 – Majority Black & Latinx community exposed to known carcinogen hexavalent chromium

(Full Post) OAKLAND, Calif. – Today Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) filed a lawsuit against AB&I Foundry and it’s parent company, McWane, Inc. for violating Proposition 65 (the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act) by exposing the surrounding community to a known carcinogen without proper notice. The lawsuit was filed today in Alameda County Superior Court. (Read more…)

Paid Opportunity for Visual Artists!

(Full Post) The Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing (SOMAH) Program has an exciting opportunity for local visual artists to create two 3-minute videos for Californians that provide energy efficiency and conservation tips for environmental justice communities. This is a paid opportunity. Applicants do not need prior experience with environmental justice work but must demonstrate a passion to impact their community.

Apply here. Submissions are due by January 14, 2022.

Please feel free to share this with anyone in your network that you think would be interested in applying.

Lastly, you can learn more about the SOMAH program and its community benefits here.

Secretary of Interior, Deb Haaland, Tours Idle and Orphan Oil Wells in Wilmington, CA

(Full Post) Wilmington, CA– United States Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland traveled to California this week, making stops in Wilmington, an environmental justice neighborhood in the Harbor region of Los Angeles, California. Secretary Haaland is the first Native American to hold a cabinet position and first Secretary of the Interior to join Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) for a toxic tour to bear witness to the adverse health and safety impacts associated with neighborhood oil drilling, and the threat that idle and orphan oil wells pose to frontline communities. (Read more here)

Rule 1109.1 Victory! Refinery Boilers & Heaters

(Full Post) Nov. 5th, 2021, in the South Coast Air District, CBE and our allies won adoption of the biggest refinery regulation SCAQMD has adopted in decades – Rule 1109.1 — to cut emissions from massive refinery Boilers & Heaters, which drive refinery energy and put out invisible pollution constantly.

Alicia Rivera (CBE’s Wilmington Community Organizer) said: “This rule is long overdue — it’s finally going to do what the failed RECLAIM pollution trading program did not do for over 20 years – reduce Nitrogen Oxides at oil refineries by millions of pounds per year. These emissions affect people’s breathing, exacerbate asthma, and create all this smog. The rule will provide some justice for communities such as Wilmington most exposed due to being so close to the refineries.” (For general background, see our earlier CBE factsheet explaining Refinery Boilers & Heaters.)

Just like the failed state Cap & Trade program for Greenhouse Gases, the regional NOx RECLAIM pollution trading program allowed refineries to buy cheap credits in pay-to-pollute system, so cheap they did not invest in controls.  (See our fact sheet on the failure of state Cap & Trade to cut emissions.

Now refineries will be mandated to install pollution controls available for decades.  Although this is an important step forward, the refineries were able to win weakening provisions allowing “alternative” compliance plans.  It will be key to follow up during rule implementation, to ensure they don’t game the system.

And for a blast from the past – CBE called out the failed RECLAIM program in a paper we published in 1999! — Pollution Trading and Environmental Injustice: Los Angeles’ Failed Experiment in Air Quality PolicyDrury, Belliveau, Kuhn, and Bansal, Duke Environmental Law and Policy Forum.  

Also see the LA Times Editorial, Nov. 4, 2021 on this regulation, and the Rule 1109.1 Earthjustice blog – Reclaiming Our Health.

Newsom Administration Proposes a 3,200ft Setback for Oil and Gas Drilling Operations

(Full Post) Today we celebrate the step forward for public health, the safety of our families and their children. We applaud this brave rule from the Newsom administration and know it will be met with misinformation from the oil and gas industry. The same way that Big oil and gas joined forces with the detention center industry, white supremacists, and luxury real estate to try and capture the Governorship, we know that they will try to oppose this rule and continue raking in profits. After more than two years of delay, we celebrate this rule.

“Wilmington families have been living with the dangerous impacts of oil drilling for too long. The Governor’s announcement of a 3,200 ft setback shows us that the Newsom administration is listening to the science and the frontlines. With this 3,200 foot setback, Newsom’s administration is telling the world they care about righting these wrongs that continue to pollute our lungs – now we need them to make it law. Countless frontline environmental justice communities have been waiting for this rule and we look forward to engaging in the process to ensure that workers and communities are protected as this rule is finalized.”

Wendy, Wilmington Community Member, Communities for a Better Environment Intern

“Today, California took a critical step forward for public health and the safety of our families and children,” said Darryl Molina Sarmiento, Executive Director of Communities for a Better Environment. “By creating a framework to end harmful oil drilling near communities, California is prioritizing front-line residents most impacted by harmful pollution while working towards a healthy equitable transition. We will continue to engage with the Governor’s Office in the next few months to secure a final health and safety setback regulation at CalGEM that offers strong protections for front-line neighborhoods impacted by oil drilling. The fight isn’t over. We need drilling operations phased out in our communities, with robust plans put in place to protect workers and communities.” Read more…

Currently, 2.17 million residents live within 2500 feet of an oil and gas well: that’s roughly 1 in 20 Californians. Of the 600+permits that have been granted for oil & gas sites in our neighborhoods in the last 2 years, >450 are for existing drill sites.

Your voice matters. We have 60 days to get comments in and urge for the strongest protections. Customize your comment if you have extra time. Give your public comment here and tell @calconservation @cagovernor @UduakJoe to end environmental injustices like these in California!


Sureste de Los Angeles: 2021 Academia de Lideres Comunitarios

(Full post) ¿Desea aprender mas herramientas de liderazgo? Unase al movimiento de la justicia ambiental! Aprenda que es, porque es importante, y vea las luchas para un medio ambiente mejor en su comunidad del sureste de los angeles. La Academia de Lideres Comunitarios empieza pronto! Para registrarse, haga clic aqui.

Dias de la academia (5-7pm): Octubre 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 y noviembre 5

Green Zones Ordinance: Public Comment for Regional Planning Commission (Submit by 9/21 at noon)

(Full post) We need YOUR support! Please take a moment to submit a written public comment to urge the Regional Planning Commission to push for a stronger Green Zones (GZ) Ordinance that offers true community protection. Comments must be submitted by September 21st, 2021 at noon. http://Bit.ly/gzcomment

While the GZ Ordinance was created to address industrial issues near people in unincorporated communities, we need it to push for rezoning and more consistent land use practices. We need to continue to protect the health and quality of life of those who have been historically and disproportionately impacted by multiple polluting sources. Link is above and it takes 2 minutes to complete!!!

¡Necesitamos su apoyo! Por favor tóme un momento para enviar un comentario público a la Comisión de Planificación Regional. Queremos una Ordenanza de Zonas Verdes que sea fuerte para asegurar que ofrezca proteccion a la salud de las comunidades.

La Ordenanza de Zonas Verdes se creó para abordar problemas industriales cerca de personas en comunidades que no son incorporadas, la necesitamos para urgir la rezonificación y prácticas de uso de la tierra. Queremos mejorar la salud pública y la calidad de vida en comunidades que históricamente han sido afectadas por múltiples fuentes de contaminantes.¡El enlace está arriba y tarda 2 minutos en completarse!

EPA Chief and US Rep take Toxic Tour with CBE

(Full post) US Rep Nanette Diaz Barragán and EPA Administrator Michael Regan visited Wilmington and South East Los Angeles on August 19th, 2021 to see and hear about the health impacts that locals face due to their proximity to dangerous pollution. They visited oil drilling sites, a few refineries, and Central Metal in #SELA. We appreciate their leadership and look forward to creating real health protective solutions.

Check out this article that was published that morning.
“Ashley Hernandez, 28, grew up in the area. Now she’s the Wilmington youth organizer with Communities for a Better Environment, and she recalled suffering health problems as a girl.

“One of the first experiences that I had living within this site was having an eye infection, or what I would consider it is an eye infection,” Hernandez said. “I had to miss around two weeks of school.”

During a visit to the pediatrician, she said, the doctor said, “You live in an area where there’s so much going on that it’s really important that you sleep with … your windows closed.”

She said her mother and sister attended a meeting organized by Communities for a Better Environment. They learned that other people were having similar health problems.

“A lot of kids were dealing with either rashes or, like, hollowed-out eyes, nosebleeds, and this was also a part of my history growing up here,” Hernandez said. “I had low heart palpitations. I had nosebleeds that would take over entire pillowcases. I had entire classrooms of peers in elementary school dealing with either asthma or nosebleeds.”

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