The amazing accomplishments of the Center for Community Action & Environmental Justice (CCAEJ)

The Center for Community Action & Environmental Justice (CCAEJ), a Moving Forward Network member, has accomplished amazing things for the communities they serve. Here’s a summary of their accomplishments, from an email message sent to supporters.

To learn more, follow CCAEJ on twitter at @CCAEJ, or on Facebook.

The Center for Community Action & Environmental Justice (CCAEJ) and our communities had major victories this year all because of the continuing support you’ve given!  
Here’s just a few of the major victories YOU’VE helped us accomplished

ü Omnitrans – We’ve won Removal of tanks containing more than 60,000 gallons of potentially explosive natural gas at Omnitrans facility in San Bernardino!  For more than a decade residents have complained about odors, release of natural gas and concerns about explosions from having this huge amount of natural gas next to their homes and schools.  Omnitrans has agreed to remove the tanks and will have it completed by June of 2016.  We won!

ü  Ag Park –  We’ve won Testing at the former industrial sewer plant/military base now called Ag Park in Riverside!  Finally after eight months of arm twisting, the state is coming in to test the soil where more than 43,000 gallons of industrial sewage waste  contaminated by PCBs and other chemicals.  Before homes are built on the site we want verification that the site is actually cleaned up.  We won!

ü  Transmission Lines – We won our challenge of placing massive electrical transmission lines through Jurupa Valley that would provide power only to  the City of Riverside. CCAEJ files a Protest of the plan with the California Public Utilities Commission that ruled So Cal. Edison and the City of Riverside must redo their analysis for the massive transmission lines through Jurupa Valley! We won!

ü  EJ Element – We won the adoption of the Environmental Justice Element in the General Plan in the City of Jurupa Valley (only the second one in the state!).  The EJ Element outlines those neighborhoods with heavy pollution and high levels of poverty, maps them out and develops a plan to address the issue.  It outlines ways to more effectively involve and engage those communities in the decision making process.  We won!
These are just a few of the major differences your support allows us to accomplish.  Please join us in being a part of making change in the Inland Valleys of Riverside and San Bernardino. 
In addition to the most recent victories we also won some other fights:

ü  Reduced Diesel Pollution – Established a restricted truck route in Mira Loma Village to take 800 trucks an hour away from homes; and installed high performance air filters on all the homes to give children, like Liliana, healthy air to breathe.

ü  Clean Water Act Violations Stopped – CCAEJ successfully challenged a dozen companies that have continually violated Clean Water Act laws forcing them to clean up their act. 
ü  Built a 13-acre community park with playground, water park, outdoor amphitheater, bandstand and picnic tables and BBQs.
ü  Installed high performance air filters on 7 schools and 1 community center in high pollution areas.  This means more than 7,000 students get a reprieve have the heavy pollution smothering their community.

All because of you cared and  supported our work!  Make no mistake without you these victories could not have happened!

You can help CCAEJ continue its critical work! 
  • Reduce pollution levels and exposure by advocating strong mitigation measures at facilities like the proposed World Logistics Center in Moreno Valley. Support CCAEJ’s capacity to challenge projects like this that would build 700 football fields of warehousing that will impact not only the health and quality of life of Moreno Valley residents but the whole region. 
  • Help us to advocate for better public policies that stop placing families, in dangerous spaces.   Our Policy Action Team (PAT) are local residents trained on how a bill becomes a law; how to explain complicated policy issues in ways the public and legislators understand; and how to advocate in the halls of Sacramento.   This builds the capacity of these communities to have their voices heard in the chambers of power.  Working through our state alliance California Environmental Justice Alliance CEJA we have pushed through a number of bills to improve the lives of vulnerable families.
  • Expand voter engagement by increasing our phone bank capacity, training precinct canvassers and growing a community base which means we can engage a new population of voters and broaden our ability to make policy changes and to hold decision makers accountable.  We recently formed CCAEJ Action a C4 organization that can endorse candidates and take a stronger position on issues.

  • Support our ACE program (Accountability, Compliance and Enforcement) to research companies in violation of their operating conditions, and call them on it.   We’ll be working with enforcement agencies to train local residents to conduct environmental testing of air, water and soil (citizen’s science); research the laws governing operations of various facilities; learn how to file appropriate complaints and bring the situation to the regulating agencies as well as the public through press conferences and demonstrations.  If all else fails CCAEJ will file the appropriate lawsuits.
  • Train new leaders through our new Board and Commission Training Institute.  Local residents will be trained to understand the roles and responsibilities of various boards and commissions and gain skills and build confidence to step into these leadership roles.  This project seeks to produce a clear trajectory for appointed and elected community members who will be technically and strategically prepared for local decision making and who value mutually accountable relationship with members of the base.  Our long-term goal is to contribute to health equity in the region by strengthening community representation, policy development, and decision making. 

But make no mistake – stepping out in front and challenging those in power makes CCAEJ a target and many are out to stop us.  The World Logistics Center is one.  Because we dare to challenge the great Iddo Benzeevi, we’ve rattled some cages.  But we’re not backing down and are proceeding with our lawsuit and anything else we can do to stop this horrible project.
In stepping up to stand with the residents living near the Ag Park (once Camp Anza and the dumping ground for Rohr/Goodrich), there are those wanting to stop us.  We’ve been pointing out how all the agencies – from DTSC, EPA, AQMD and the Regional Water Board have failed this community.  In reviewing the history of this site, everyone has let this community down! We are committed to seeing this through to a real clean-up of the site and its surrounding area, including getting help for local residents with health problems.  
For the Good Fight,

Penny Newman
Executive Director
Twitter: @CCAEJ