Environmental Justice and Health Equity

Environmental and Health Equity Website page, and 10th Anniversary mag. Page 4:

CAUSE’s environmental justice work is inspired by the Native American worldview and approach to public decision making that considers the impact of for seven generations. It is not just us, here today, but the next seven generations of people – and beyond - whose quality of life and standard of living is being impacted by our decisions today.

CAUSE began its environmental justice work in 2007 when diverse grassroots leaders including farm workers, Mixteco indigenous families, and affluent beach front property owners came together to organize their community to stop the world’s largest mining company from building a South Oxnard offshore liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal. South Oxnard is twice as likely to have an environmental hazard as other communities of Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.

More than 80 percent of the population in South Oxnard are people of color with one-third of the community earning below the federal poverty level and 71 percent of its children qualify for free and reduced lunch programs. The LNG terminal near South Oxnard would have been the region’s worst air polluter for a proposed half a century. Environmental justice issues like this are about protection of the environment and protection of the most vulnerable children and families in our community.

Following the organizing effort to stop BHP Billiton’s LNG proposal, leaders in South Oxnard organized by CAUSE initiated the Halaco Superfund hazardous waste site environmental justice campaign, where grassroots leaders were trained to organize and lead a public education campaign to expedite the clean up of this community problem by the Environmental Protection Agency. This campaign involved working with researchers from the University of Southern California Program on Environmental and Regional Equity toward mitigating immediate hazards on the Halaco Superfund site, including the demolition of buildings that attract trespassers to enter the site illegally and increasing the signage to warn the community of the dangers of the site.

Environmental justice is not only about protection and clean-up, but also about creating quality environmental projects and environmentally healthy communities. Now CAUSE’s grassroots leaders are working to address the lack of access to green spaces in South Oxnard and west Ventura and are advocating for the Ormond Beach Wetlands Gateway Park as a priority issue for green space and future job opportunities.

CAUSE is committed to building a base of grassroots leaders and supporters to continue to take on these and other environmental justice issues affecting our communities of the California Central Coast. Our communities now and seven generations from now are depending on us.

For more information on CAUSE’s environmental justice work, contact Maricela Morales, CAUSE Deputy Executive Director at maricela@coastalalliance.com.

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