LA RIVER CENTER, April 8. Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ 3rd District) launched a series of congressional forums on raising awareness of climate change in communities of color, starting with a forum drawing over 100 local residents to the LA River Center along the winding path of the LA River restoration project here today.
Encouraged by The City Project, the meeting was the starting point for a new effort aimed at strengthening climate leadership from Latinos and all environmental justice advocates in setting priorities for the environmental movement. Robert Garcia of The City Project testified that environmental justice is a civil right falling under state and national laws which prohibit "disproportionate impacts" of pollution on communities of color. Mapping provided by California state officials clearly shows that carbon and methane pollution, the principle components of greenhouse gas emissions, falls most heavily on inner city districts and the entire Central Valley, especially Kern County.
The hearings begin at a time when California leaders like Sen. Pro Tem Kevin De Leon are attempting to invest more revenue from the state's climate budget into health, housing and jobs programs which reduce emissions in Valley communities. State legislation (AB 32, SB 535) now requires that emission reductions include, "co-benefits for disadvantaged communities," a possible model for global climate talks leading to Paris in December,
Attending the forum besides Grijalva were LA Supervisor Hilda Solis, Rep. Judy Chu, Rep. Maxine Waters, Rep. Linda Sanchez, Rep. Norma Torres, Rep. Alan Lowenthal, and Rep. Grace Napolitano. Representing their communities were Andrew Yip of the Bike San Gabriel Mountains Forever, Noreen McClendon of Concerned Citizens of South Central LA, and Angela Johnson Meszaros of Physicians for Social Responsibility,
"Low-income workers and people of color definitely feel what climate change is about," Yip testified. "It's about heat rising, crops dying, and it getting harder to work."