Colorado and three other Upper Colorado River Basin states have, for the first time in history, embarked on a series of formal meetings to find a way to negotiate jointly with some of the largest owners of Colorado River water rights: tribal communities.
A new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists outlines wide-reaching environmental impacts affecting the health and economy of San Joaquin Valley communities from extreme heat to water scarcity and pollution.
The report acts as a guide to help community members and advocates address climate change issues and prepare for challenges. Advocates at the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability contributed to the report.
Amid a record-breaking fire year, a new report out Thursday says the state lacks a grasp on the true costs of wildfires. The report is from the California Council on Science and Technology, an independent nonprofit organization established to offer state leaders objective advice from scientists and research institutions.
Amid mounting controversy and concerns over environmental justice, California American Water on Wednesday withdrew its application for a desalination project in the small Monterey Bay town of Marina.
The proposal had become one of the most fraught issues to come before the California Coastal Commission, which was set to vote Thursday. The decision would have been the first major test of the commission’s new power to review not only harm to the environment when making decisions but also harm to underrepresented communities.
Amid a global pandemic and protests against police brutality, Erin Brockovich is trying to get America to pay attention to yet another issue: water.
“We are in a water crisis beyond anything you can imagine. Pollution and toxins are everywhere, stemming from the hazardous wastes of industry and agriculture. We’ve got more than 40,000 chemicals on the market today with only a few hundred regulated. We’ve had industrial byproducts discarded into the ground and into our water supply for years. This crisis affects everyone – rich or poor, black or white, Republican or Democrat. Communities everywhere think they are safe when they are not,” she wrote in an opinion story for the Guardian.
On a barren stretch of Monterey Bay, in a region desperate for fresh water, an oft-overlooked town has little say in whether a big water company can build a desalination operation right on its shore.
Here in Marina, where one-third of the town is low income and many speak little English, industrial facilities have long burdened the landscape. This desalination project would replace a century-old sand mine that has stripped shorebirds and rare butterflies of their home — and the community of an open space where anybody could cool off during a heat wave or enjoy a day by the sea.
Not a drop of this treated water — which would be piped to other cities, businesses and farmers in need — would even be for Marina.
Environmental toxic exposure suffered in many minority neighborhoods is part of the systemic racism evident in society, and environmental justice belongs near the top of discussions to right those wrongs, writes Kevin McKie, an attorney at the Environmental Litigation Group P.C. Communities can take several steps, including passing legislation requiring industries to comply with stricter environmental regulations or pay additional fines, requiring that stringent environmental impact studies be performed before construction of new plants or the installation of toxic emission monitoring stations, and offering free medical monitoring.
More than 140 cities and counties in California intend to update their long-term plans over the next two years to include environmental justice, meaning air pollution, water quality, and other factors affecting disadvantaged communities would get a closer look.
Local governments across the country typically have general plans that spell out long-term visions for land use, open space, housing, safety, and other planning factors. Some local governments haven’t updated their overall general plans since the 1970s, said Erik de Kok, a program manager in the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research.
Under California law, everyone in the state has a right to clean and affordable drinking water. But many disadvantaged communities still rely on contaminated water – either from private wells or public water sources. “Our groundwater in the Central Valley in California has been highly polluted … and it’s running through old and dilapidated infrastructure getting to people’s taps,” says Susana De Anda, co-founder of the Community Water Center, an environmental justice organization.
Californians across the state are concerned about climate change and support plans to reduce harmful emissions and focus on renewable sources of energy. But there are stark differences when it comes to which residents of the Golden State see pollution as a serious threat to their family’s health.