Comite Civico del Valle (CCV) – Leader in Citizen Science and Environmental Action

CCV logoInformation is power, and no community organization has done more to create power for the people than MFN member Comite Civico del Valle (CCV), headquartered in the Imperial Valley of Southern California.  Among its many accomplishments, Comite Civico, founded 30 years ago, has worked with partners to set up a sophisticated air monitoring system and a world-class online environmental reporting system that provides detailed and actionable information on environmental health hazards.


More importantly, these tools provide residents of the Imperial Valley the tools to take matters into their own hands – to identify, report, and document environmental problems, and to ensure that their governmental representatives take appropriate action.  For the latest news on CCV’s work, check out the excellent article in last week’s issue of Yes! Magazine, a nonprofit, independent, reader-supported publication, or the background below.

In California’s Imperial Valley, Residents Aren’t Waiting for Government to Track Pollution, Yes! Magazine


Tracking asthma threats in the Imperial Valley’s hazy air, Desert Sun

“It is Up to Us”: Citizen Science in Imperial County, Sierra Club California/Nevada Desert CommitteeDesert Report

EPA to conduct goods movement pilot projects with MFN member Harambee House & others

Since its inception, the Moving Forward Network (MFN) has worked to advance environmental justice as a priority within the EPA and other agencies.  Thanks to the hard work of the network and its members to bring together community organizing, media, and science, we have seen some great advances by the EPA, including a stated intent in the EJ 2020 plan and elsewhere to reduce goods movement air pollution and improve public health in overburdened communities.

Among the initiatives in which our members are involved is a project by the EPA Office of Transportation and Air Quality (OTAQ) to develop a series of guides intended to help port communities build capacity and for ports and port communities to engage and reduce air pollution  – the Ports Primer, Community Action Roadmap, and Environmental Justice Primer.

The guides are now in draft, and the EPA has selected three organizations or partnerships with which to test and refine the guides, enhance community skills, develop action plans, and address community needs.  Among those selected is an MFN member, Harambee House, Inc. of Savannah, Georgia.  

The MFN and its members have been effective in moving the agency when we organize, and are willing to collaborate and work with the EPA when it furthers our agenda of protecting overburdened communities.

To review the draft guides and learn more about these projects, see the following, received last week from the EPA:

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New research shows traffic-related air pollution may lead to dementia in older women

Image: USC School of Gerontology

Scientists at the University of Southern California published research yesterday that shows that Particulate Matter air pollution from power plants and vehicles may greatly increase the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia. Their work indicates that air pollution may be responsible for over 20 percent of dementia cases.  Their study was published in the Nature journal Translational Psychiatry.

Over 5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimers Disease, and it is estimated that almost 14 million people will be afflicted by 2050.  To learn more, see the video or references below.

The USC Research

The surprising link between air pollution and Alzheimer’s disease, LA Times

Air pollution linked to Alzheimer’s disease, study says, Press Enterprise

Air pollution may lead to dementia in older women, USC School of Gerontology


Diesel exhaust linked to magnetic particles in our brains and Alzheimer’s Disease, Moving Forward Network

Air Pollution May Be The Cause Of Alzheimer’s Disease, Innotrendz

2016 Alzheimer’s disease facts and figures, Alzheimers and Dementia Journal

Agreement Protects San Diego’s Vanishing Burrowing Owls, Increases Solar Energy

Did you ever see something that looked wrong, go on your way, and later wish you had done or said something?

Jesse Marquez and friends went on a bird-watching trip and noticed that burrowing owls had been poisoned.  Jesse followed up, didn’t stop, reached out to others, and in partnership with those dedicated people and organizations achieved a great win for the burrowing owl and the American people.

Jesse is executive director of Coalition For A Safe Environment, an MFN member, and one of the most inspirational people in the EJ movement.

My lesson learned – speak up, fight for what’s right, and try to be as smart and persistent as Jesse – a tall order.

Thank you, Jesse!


SAN DIEGO – An agreement announced today between conservation and environmental justice groups and private developers will protect imperiled burrowing owls, increase renewable solar energy and conserve wildlife habitat to offset impacts from the redevelopment of San Diego’s Brown Field Municipal Airport. The airport – located near the Mexico border in Otay Mesa – will be redeveloped with new commercial and aviation facilities and include on-site solar energy to reduce energy consumption.

“This agreement provides an innovative strategy reestablishing burrowing owls throughout San Diego County and creates an effective tool to allow off-site mitigation of greenhouse gases with rooftop solar in communities most harmed by air pollution from fossil fuels,” said Jonathan Evans, environmental health legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity.

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California report finds electric and other low emissions vehicle technology accelerating faster than expecting

Just as electric vehicles can be quicker off the starting line than fossil fuel vehicles, the technology for zero and low emissions passenger vehicles is advancing faster than most thought possible.  A report just released by the California Air Resources Board finds that the California greenhouse gas (GHG) emission standards currently in place for model years 2022-2025 are readily feasible at or below the costs estimated back in 2012 – when the standards were adopted with support from many automakers. Continuing on the path to meeting the 2025 standards will deliver significant clean-air and public health benefits for Californians and cost-savings for consumers.

The 667-page Midterm Review of Advanced Clean Cars Program report released this week confirms that the previously adopted package of GHG standards, technology-forcing zero-emission vehicle standards, and the most health-protective particulate matter standards in the world are appropriate. The report indicates that existing programs in California will add at least 1 million zero-emission vehicles on its roads and highways by 2025.

“The recent Detroit auto show shined a spotlight on the fact that we are fully engaged in a global transformation towards autonomous vehicles, with hybrid cars an industry norm and electric models appearing across models and platforms,” said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols. “Our standards need to recognize and keep pace with that market reality to keep California and the nation fully competitive in the global automobile marketplace. The conclusion is inescapable: California’s vehicle future is electric.”

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Training resources to build community capacity on goods movement and health – webinar on MFN Library resources

On December 21, the University of Southern California held a webinar “Training resources to build community capacity on goods movement and health,” which highlighted the resources available in the Moving Forward Network library and how they can be used.  A recording of the webinar can be found here.

Speakers Carla Truax of the University of Southern California,  Eric Kirkendall of the Diesel Health Project, and Ms. Margaret Gordon of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project talked about workshops and presentation resources that organizations can use to train new members and students. They discussed their experiences developing the materials for varied audiences, and noted that the “guides and 101” documents are great for beginners, use an engaging education style, and often are available in both English and Spanish.

mfn-library-screenshotThe Moving Forward Network Library features hundreds of useful documents, including the Air Pollution 101 training course, the Curriculum Guide for Freight Transport Justice, the Goods Movement 101 three-part course, the Speakers Kit on Goods Movement, policy briefs, reference collections and infographics on health studies, and  national Environmental Justice and Global Trade Impact reports.

Topics covered in the webinar included how to locate occupational health resources, warehouse worker studies, and other useful resources, such as information on refineries, hazardous materials, and schools.  Participants commented on the importance of “Reducing Air Emissions Associated With Goods Movement: Working Towards Environmental Justice” by the EPA National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) committee to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, also available in the MFN Library. There was also discussion about continuing the online meetings and hosting a calendar of events on the MFN Web site.

To learn more, view the recording of the webinar and check out the resources available in the MFN Library.

Moving Forward Network partners – please share your public materials in the library by emailing them to

Thanks to the Moving Forward Network partners and webinar host USC Environmental Health Community Engagement Team for this excellent session!

Angelo Logan of MFN and other national environmental justice leaders vow to continue battle for justice

The EJ poster image above is courtesy of Donnelly/Colt Progressive Resources

Since the election of Donald Trump, environmental justice leaders across the country have been strategizing about how to continue to fight for justice in the face of expected big shifts in Federal government priorities.  One theme that has been consistent – they will not stand down.


Angelo Logan, campaign director, Moving Forward Network, as quoted by Keith Rushing, Lead Advocacy Press Secretary, Earthjustice

Last Friday, Keith Rushing, Lead Advocacy Press Secretary for Earthjustice, wrote one of the best articles on the subject, Environmental Justice Leaders to Stand Strong in the Trump Era. Keith interviewed three EJ leaders – Angelo Logan, campaign director of the Moving Forward Network, Peggy Shepard, executive director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice in New York City, and Hilton Kelley, director of the Community In-Power and Development Association in Port Arthur, Texas.

Keith’s summary regarding how EJ organizations can hold the line and ramp up their work is that four things are necessary, (1) Stand strong in the face of adversity, (2) Get a seat at the table at the national level, (3) Keep up state and local fights, and (4) increase funding for EJ.

This article has great insights.  Click below for more details, and consider how you can contribute to this very important work.


Scientists say exercising in heavy air pollution is bad for your heart

A European study of 16,000 people found that air pollution impairs the function of blood vessels in the lungs, and that exercise could cause lung damage and heart failure. The lead scientist in the study, cardiologist Jean-Francois Argacha said: “Our main advice is to limit physical activities during heavy air pollution.”

 Despite numerous studies showing strong links between air pollution and cardiovascular disease, this study is the first to demonstrate the effects of air pollution on pulmonary vascular function.

Our main advice is to limit physical activities during heavy air pollution.

For more information, check out the press release from the European Society of Cardiology, or the two other linked articles, provided for background.

Air pollution impairs function of blood vessels in lungs, European Society of Cardiology

For background

Air Pollution and Heart Disease, Stroke, American Heart Association

How Air Pollution Contributes to Heart Disease, Physicians for Social Responsibility


Fostering Environmental Literacy in Kansas City

Share Leticia DeCaigny’s conversation with Richard Mabion and support the #ZeroEmissionsNow campaign.

Richard Mabion is president of the Kansas City, Kansas branch of the NAACP and a board member of the Kansas Sierra Club. He created Building A Sustainable Earth Community to draw more people of color to the environmental sustainability movement.

Leticia DeCaigny, leader of the Argentine/Turner Good Neighbor Committee and Diesel Health Project community organizer, spoke with Richard Mabion about how he began advocating for his community around environmental issues and his hopes for the future. Here are excerpts from their conversation, which you can hear on


LETICIA DECAIGNY: What in your life experience prepared you to be a changemaker?


RICHARD MABION: You’re getting all my little trade secrets, aren’t you? (Laughs) My mother was the last president for the PTA for the “Negro school system” in the state of Kansas. When they had the Brown vs. Topeka court settlement my mother was president … So when you grow up in that kind of environment, you have an emphasis on education in your face every day, and you have an emphasis for change, and you grow up with one of those “can do” attitudes. And so actually it’s like being a Christian. I didn’t have a choice in the matter. We went to church on Sunday and we were raised to be changemakers.


LD: So how does the pollution in our community impact you and others.


RM: The portion of the population that we represent is the low-income community. And the problem with pollution in the low-income community is lack of education. No one has really taken the time to stop and education the public about what it is that they’re even dealing with. And that’s what makes what you and I do very special. Because … we’re in a position to make sure the everyday person can learn environmental literacy, can learn about pollution. And it doesn’t have to end up like it was in Flint, where the people were totally out of the loop when it came to their own water.


LD: What is your greatest hope for positive change in your lifetime and how can we all be a part of that change?


RM: Harmony. Being able to live as an American public. I think that that’s another thing the environmental movement can produce … That’s what David Korten was talking about with the Great Turning. That if we all start working for the benefit of this planet then we’ll all be working for the benefit for each other. And that’s the ultimate that I’d like to see this planet become.


I don’t know how many more years of life I have. I’d like to think 100. But realistically what I’m doing is to assist and pass some wisdom on to your age group, so that you’ll be able to use it as stepping stones to take us where we need to go as a human race.

PLEASE JOIN Leticia and Richard in the #ZeroEmissionsNow campaign to reduce diesel emissions in our communities. Share their conversation using the social media buttons above to show your support for #ZeroEmissionsNow.

LEARN MORE about the work they are doing to improve the quality of life in Kansas City, Kansas by following the Diesel Health Project.

LISTEN to other conversations in our StoryCorps project, with people who are fighting for #ZeroEmissionsNow in their communities across the United States.

Barrio Logan’s Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal Expansion Takes Step Toward Sustainability

EHC says expansion plan addresses concerns from most impacted communities

SAN DIEGO, December 13, 2016 – Environmental Health Coalition (EHC), an organization fighting toxic pollution in San Diego’s most vulnerable communities, applauds the Port for passing a sustainable plan for the expansion of the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal that acknowledges and addresses concerns of the surrounding communities. Today, more than 40 community members from Barrio Logan, Logan Heights and Sherman Heights attended the hearing urging Port officials to reduce pollution and incorporate community benefits into the plan. More than 500 residents from the neighborhoods and throughout San Diego signed petitions echoing their demands.

 “The community is encouraged by this step toward a mutually beneficial relationship with the Port,” says EHC Barrio Logan community organizer Jorge Gonzalez. “This plan will directly impact the lives of people living and working in Barrio Logan by reducing pollution now and in the future.”

 The official Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal expansion plan includes:

  • Maximum cargo throughput that is 25 percent less than in the original plan

  • 36 new pieces of electric cargo handling equipment

  • Mandatory equipment that captures and treats smokestack emissions for ships that cannot plug into shore side electricity

  • Annual equipment inventory and technology review to identify new opportunities for emission reduction

  • A renewable energy project on the terminal, such as solar panels on warehouse buildings, or an equivalent locally approved program for greenhouse gas reductions

At the urging of Commissioner Rafael Castellanos, the Port also committed to implementing community benefits including local hire, air filters for Perkins Elementary School, resolving the existing parking problem and establishing a local community advisory committee to monitor the approved mitigations.

 “As a lifelong Barrio Logan resident, I’d like to see a portion of the funding for the Port expansion go toward community benefits  – particularly air filters for Perkins Elementary and other important community facilities,” says 19-year-old Francisco Martinez. “We need a responsible and sustainable plan that leads to economic growth with less pollution and impacts on families like mine.”

 According to the California Environmental Protection Agency’s environmental justice screening tool, CalEnviroScreen, Barrio Logan remains among the worst five percent of neighborhoods suffering from the cumulative impacts of pollution in California. Despite progress made to the plan since its initial stage, EHC says it still means additional pollution for San Diego’s already over-polluted neighborhoods.

 “The adoption of a plan far better than what was originally proposed is certainly a victory for the community,” says EHC Executive Director Diane Takvorian. “Yet this expansion plan undeniably adds another layer of pollution to a community already suffering the brunt of environmental inequity. There is much more work to be done, but we’re hopeful that this is a step in the right direction and that the Port will continue to adopt practices that reduce impacts to the adjacent neighborhoods.”

Environmental Health Coalition (EHC), founded in 1980, builds grassroots campaigns to confront the unjust consequences of toxic pollution, discriminatory land use and unsustainable energy policies. For more information, visit

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