The truth is that our political leaders have failed to value our community’s health over profits, and enough is enough. Our community is already suffering from environmental racism, and it is time that we take action to guarantee clean air, clean water, and clean food for everyone. Learn more about environmental justice issues in District 65 and what we plan to do about it. With these plans, we will be able to create truly sustainable, thriving communities that we can all be proud of.
4 out of California’s 15 oil refineries are in District 65, including the Marathon Refinery in Carson, the largest oil refinery on the West Coast. Oil refineries are industrial plants where crude oil is processed into other oil-based products. The process is hazardous because it releases toxic chemicals and contributes to significant air pollution.
Oil refineries occur disproportionately in Black and Latinx communities. According to one study, African Americans are 75% more likely to live in communities most impacted by oil refineries. Air pollution from refineries contributes to health issues such as asthma and cancer. This isn’t just theoretical: we see the impact of oil refineries in our community. For example, District 65 has some of the highest air pollution and asthma rates in all of California. These are examples of environmental racism, and something we must address boldly in our state policies.
Want to learn more? Check out these resources:
Communities for a Better Environment’s research compilation on fossil fuels, oil refineries, and other environmental justice issues
NAACP and the Clean Air Task Force‘s joint publication, “Fumes Across the Fence-Line: The Health Impacts from Oil & Gas Facilities on African American Communities”
LA Times’ article on the recent Marathon Refinery explosion in Carson
Pacific Standard’s article, “‘The Fear of Dying’ Pervades Southern California’s Oil-Polluted Enclaves“
Earth Justice’s factsheet on “Oil Refineries and Toxic Air Pollution“
Neighborhood drilling is the process by which companies extract oil from wells. There are over 5000 active wells in LA County, with Wilmington in District 65 having the highest amount of neighborhood oil drilling in LA county (also making it the third largest oil field in the entire US). 70% of these wells are within 1500 feet of a home or other sensitive land use such as a school or hospital. Many of us do not even know that we live close to an active well. Yet, the oil extraction process is harmful to both environmental and human health. There are many different extraction processes, and most of them involve harsh chemicals that contribute to increased air and water pollution. There are also many harsh odors, noise, and dirt as a result of the neighborhood drilling.
There are also thousands of abandoned wells that are unused – some of them for decades – and abandoned. Many of these wells continue to release toxic chemicals into our community’s air and water supplies. While there are some regulations to help ensure these wells are safe, they are rarely enforced.
Want to learn more? Check out these resources:
• STAND LA on the history and impacts of neighborhood drilling in LA
• LA Times’s article on neighborhood drilling in Wilmington
• LA Times and Center for Public Integrity’s joint report on the impact of abandoned wells in LA
We have collaborated with community members and organizations to create a comprehensive environmental policy platform that centers justice and health for our entire community and state.
Firstly, we know that we need to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2030. Limiting global warming and transitioning to an energy source that will be sustainable and accessible for decades to come is critical for our environmental, economic, and community health. We will pursue bold and creative strategies to achieve this priority, including investing in research & development, making public transit free, expanding green space, reducing waste, banning single use plastic, building public renewable energy infrastructure, strengthening building codes, holding polluting corporations accountable for the damage they’ve done in our communities and more.
A critical part of our plan is ensuring a just transition for workers in the green economy. We know that there are many people who may need to undergo job retraining, which can be a challenging and scary prospect. There are many new jobs that are possible in a green economy and they will be essential to ensuring our public schools, neighborhoods, and workplaces are built to be a climate resilient and sustainable for the future. We need to invest in climate jobs, provide ample training for transitioning workers, and ensure that jobs in the green economy are well paying with quality benefits like paid sick leave, union protected, and fulfilling.
We must prioritize cleaning active and abandoned wells to ensure environmental health for our communities. We need to have more robust auditing, implementation, and evaluation procedure to make sure that policies are properly enforced in all of our communities. We need audits of the status of existing wells and plans for how we will clean them all up in a timely manner. These plans will be part of our plan to ensure we each have access to clean air and water.
Finally, we must take bold action to ban fracking and oil and natural gas drilling and refining. We must transition to clean energy sources for the long-term health of environments, economy, and communities.