Nearly two-thirds of San Diegans surveyed prefer to invest in public transit, bicycling and walking paths before freeway expansion, yet SANDAG has prioritized freeway expansion. At a press conference last week, Environmental Health Coalition (EHC), 15 supporting organizations and residents asked SANDAG to consider a third transportation scenario that deprioritizes freeway expansion.

Transportation justice SANDAG 5

Speakers, including Monique Lopez of EHC, Bruce Reznik of San Diego Housing Federation and Alicia Sebastian of the MAAC Project, specified what a third scenario includes and explained why public transit, bicycling and walking paths are the first step toward transportation that works for all community members.

Transportation justice SANDAG 2

Transportation justice SANDAG 3

Transportation justice SANDAG 4The third scenario represents an opportunity to improve air quality and quality of life for residents of underserved neighborhoods who can't afford public transit, struggle with hours of daily commuting and can't safely walk or bike on existing streets.

It's time for the City of San Diego to secure a healthy future in the face of environmental changes. Tell the Mayor and City Council to prepare our communities for the effects of climate changeand read more information below.

Here's the not so good news:

Low-income communities of color have long been on the front lines of pollution from dirty energy, transportation and more, and now we're being hit first and worst by climate change. With a lack of financial resources and access to affordable healthcare, our community is most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. This includes:Solar installs

Here's the good news:

We can take action now to reduce pollution and the effects of climate change in San Diego with simple changes in our daily lives. The choices we make today—like biking and walking more, using less water and energy and choosing environmentally sustainable products— are little things that have a large impact on our community's health.

We also need strong and immediate government leadership. EHC has worked for years with the City of San Diego on a Climate Action Plan that reduces pollution and protects us from the harmful effects of climate change. In February 2014, the City released a draft plan with strong potential to protect a healthy future for San Diego.

Transit photoNow we need your help to finalize the plan. Sign our letter and ask the city to prepare us for the environmental effects of climate change by approving an enforceable Climate Action Plan that: 

  • Gives San Diegans a clean energy choice
  • Puts solar in all communities
  • Makes our homes green, healthy and efficient
  • Ensures safe, clean, convenient and affordable public transit
  • Provides walkable and bikeable neighborhoods for all by investing in communities most overburdened by air pollution, transportation inequity and climate impacts
  • Creates good-paying, local jobs for residents

What will your community look like in 50 years? 100 years? Join other San Diegans in supporting a sustainable city- sign our letter today.

What is climate change?

Climate change can't be seen or touched, but every day our families are affected by it. The thick, dirty air and emissions from cars, industries and the generation of electricity harm our environment. The pollution causes heat waves, wildfires and flooding, putting public health at serious risk. Click here or on the image below to read our billingual brochure and learn more about how climate change affects your family and what you can do to can help.

La Maestra brochure cover

How does it affect your family's health?

Climate change makes it hard to breathe. The air triggers asthma attacks, causing children to miss school and parents to miss work.
Climate change creates longer and more severe heat waves. Hot weather makes it harder to spend time outdoors. Children, seniors and homes without air conditioning are threatening the most by the heat.
Climate change causes drought, reducing our access to fresh water and increasing the risk of wildfires.
Climate change adds to sea-level rise, which threatens out homes and coastal communities with floods.

Take action in your community.
Stand up for clean air and healthy changes in your community, such as:

  • La Maestra poster EnglishSolar panels on our rooftops
  • Safe and affordable public transit
  • Walkable and bikeable neighborhoods
  • Good paying, local jobs
  • Reduction of air pollution from industries

Take public transit or ride your bicycle instead of driving a car.

Take action at home.
You can reduce pollution right now by making your home energy efficient:

  • Unplug items when you are not using them, including cell phone chargers, TVs and coffee machines
  • Turn off the lights when not in use
  • Take five–minute showers
  • Use curtains to keep your house cool/warm

Together, we can reduce pollution in our community and at home. Contact your healthcare professional for more information. (Back to top)

 

Each of us is a commuter. We commute to work, to school, to the grocery store and to the homes of our friends and family, making transportation an important issue affecting our everyday lives. It is not why we commute, but how we commute that matters. 

Our transportation choices impact our public health, with cars polluting our air and catalyzing climate change and environmental health hazards. When we take public transit or ride our bicycle, we reduce our risk for pollution and pollution-related illnesses, such as asthma.

Unfortunately, not all communities have the same access to healthy and safe transportation options, such as public transit and biking and walking paths. Increased access to sustainable, safe and affordable transportation options means increased access to well-paying jobs, good schools and affordable housing options. In short, better transportation options mean better quality of life.

Green bike lane city heightsThese safe, reliable and affordable transportation options are what we call transportation justice. Transportation justice means all neighborhoods have equal access to alternative transportation and no communities are overburdened with the pollution from cars on neighborhood streets or freeways. It means that the risk of being hit by a car is reduced because bike paths and sidewalks are plentiful. It means public transit is affordable, accessible and convenient and families don't have to walk an hour to the grocery store because they can't afford to take the bus. It means a person does not have to travel two hours each way on the bus to get to and from work, when the same trip a car ride would only take 20 minutes.

Goals of the transportation justice movement include:

Accessibility – Increase transportation options and affordability giving community member's greater access to goods, jobs and services.
Increased public health and safety - Improve infrastructure that reduces air pollution and pedestrian and bicyclist collisions by cars. 
Equity in investment and benefits – Prioritize transportation investments for historically underserved communities and there is an equitable distribution of transportation benefits by providing high quality services to all.

In 2014, elected officials from the San Diego region work to determine how to best invest money in transportation and what the future of transportation options should look like. Get involved to make your voice heard and ensure transportation justice for all. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to learn more information or get involved: (619) 474-0220 ext. 130.

Please read the original post by California Environmental Justice Alliance here

President Obama recently announced his new plan to address climate change. The plan proposes new rules to cut carbon dioxide emissions from the nation's remaining coal fired power plants. Announced through the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Clean Power Plan by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, the President and the EPA propose to cut carbon dioxide pollution from the nation's existing power plants 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

The President's plan includes goals to accelerate clean energy through increased funding for technology and doubling wind and solar electricity generation by 2020. It intends to promote energy efficiency and conservation in homes, businesses, and factories by increasing loans for energy efficiency and conservation and setting targets for cutting energy waste in multi-family homes. 

Climate map US 2012

A climate plan needs bold environmental justice provisions

A successful national climate plan must start with the communities most directly impacted. Communities of color are often left out of the benefit of environmental and energy policies, while struggling with the health and quality of life impacts of fossil fuel use and production on a daily basis. Although President Obama's plan takes a big step forward and includes a section on environmental justice saying the EPA has taken comments from environmental justice communities nationally, it is vague in how it will address impacts on low-income communities of color who already bear the burden of dirty energy and are first in line to feel the impacts of climate change.

Especially as the Environmental Protection Agency just celebrated the 20th Anniversary of the Executive Order on Environmental Justice and released a new "strategy" to achieving environmental justice, called "Plan EJ", Obama's plan merely says that "the EPA will consider environmental justice issues." The plan must be more specific and bold as to how it will address environmental justice.

In order for President Obama's Climate Plan to help our country make the transition we desperately need, it must start with the communities who are most highly impacted by our dirty energy economy.

Don't be fooled by natural gas

The President is also solely focused on transitioning off coal power plants using primarily natural gas, a fossil fuel and one form of dirty energy. While coal must be phased out, it is a dangerous and faulty move to replace coal with natural gas. Natural gas power plants are often located in poor communities and are extremely detrimental to our climate and health. Natural gas releases dangerous levels of greenhouse gases, including methane which has 20 times the global warming potential than carbon dioxide. The President and the EPA need to set aggressive targets to transition to 100 percent renewable energy, instead of relying on dirty energy.

By focusing on natural gas a "bridge fuel", the President and the EPA encourage extreme oil and natural gas extraction techniques. In California, communities experience extreme oil and gas extraction in examples such as the Chevron oil refinery in poor Laotian and Black communities in Richmond to fracking in Latino communities in the Central Valley and to the massive build out of dirty gas plants in Southern California. The Presidents' support for natural gas is particularly out of touch with environmental justice communities who have demanded to transition off of fossil fuel for years.

Yes to clean energy, but let's make it local

marianalopezkids1The California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA) and EHC applaud President Obama for his goal of increasing solar and wind in the nation. We also challenge the President to increase local distributed generation (such as rooftop solar), especially in communities most impacted and disadvantaged communities. Low-income communities and communities of color rarely benefit from large scale solar and wind farms, and these projects can have their own negative health impacts. By focusing on local distributed generation, our communities can reap the health and climate benefits, and get the advantage of the local economic and job development.

CEJA and EHC appreciate Obama's plan to increase standards and funding for efficiency and conservation, and urge that the nation follow California's example by creating a clear "hierarchy" of energy saving strategies: prioritize conservation, demand response, energy efficiency and renewable energy, before any natural gas is considered.

CEJA and EHC applaud President Obama for his new climate plan, but encourages the President, the Environmental Protection Agency and Congress to make a clear commitment to two of the most critical elements to any successful climate change plan: ensuring benefits for the communities most directly impacted, and ending all dirty energy, including extreme oil and natural gas extraction. While the current plan takes important steps, only with these elements will we be able to truly save our climate.