THE SAN GABRIEL VALLEY TRIBUNE
Creating a climate of participation in vulnerable communities
By Randy Jurado Ertll
Now more than ever, we need to provide a way for our students to become environmental leaders in their schools and communities. There is no better way to do this than through direct participation. Later this year, on April 29, millions will throughout the United States will participate in the People’s Climate Mobilization to advocate for green protections.
We can no longer afford to sit on the sidelines. That is one of the reasons the California Latino Environmental Advocacy Network (CLEAN) was established in 2014 — to advocate for clean air and water, and to promote environmental education in public schools and community efforts. We have to become active citizens and participants in our society to protect our environment and civil rights.
In 2014, The Washington Post reported that “researchers at the University of Minnesota, writing in the journal PLOS ONE, have created a sweeping picture of unequal exposure to one key pollutant — nitrogen dioxide, produced by cars, construction equipment and industrial sources — that’s been linked to higher risks of asthma and heart attack. They’ve found, all over the country, in even the most rural states and the cleanest cities, that minorities are exposed to more of the pollution than whites.”
These are not alternative facts, President Trump. Disproportionate contamination affects the lives of working-class people throughout our nation, white and non-white, on a daily basis, many times shortening their life spans. And we must do something about it. The poor must not be ignored.
In order to be seen and heard, CLEAN is now implementing its membership drive through our website. Anyone can become a member, free of charge, at www.cleannetwork. org/become_a_member. CLEAN will continue to provide its members with key environmental educational information and research tools.
We must teach our young students the importance of environmental issues and how these issues apply to their daily lives. Climate change is not just an international issue — it is a local issue impacting the health of millions of Californians.
We have included on our website a resources section that includes the California Environmental Protection Agency/Cal-EPA pollution search and mapping tools link: http://oehha.ca.gov/calenviroscreen/report/calenviroscreen-version-20.
Environmental protection is a life-or-death issue. CLEAN is needed because the areas most impacted by air, water and toxic contamination are poor, minority communities that do not have enough money or political clout to fight back.
Many community members do not realize tat they are being poisoned since rent sometimes is a little cheaper in polluted areas. Many working-class families cannot move out of extremely polluted areas — they have bought a home or found an affordable apartment or rental house, making it economically almost impossible to move.
We cannot ignore the fact that polluters become big campaign contributors and wield tremendous influence on certain elected officials, making it even more difficult to pass pro-environmental rules and regulations. Sadly, environmental state legislation is approved and then hardly implemented at the local level. That was the case with the Exide Battery Recycling plant in Vernon, allowed to operate for more than 30 years on a temporary permit.
Why not become a member of the California Latino Environmental Advocacy Network? This is how the Sierra Club started in 1892, with a few members, and now, 124 years later, it is one of the biggest environmental groups in the world, with more than 2 million active members.
See you at the April 29 People’s Climate Mobilization events. It’s a step in the green direction.
Randy Jurado Ertll is volunteer executive director of the California Latino Environmental Advocacy Network. www.cleannetwork.org
THE SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE
Green movement needs to diversify, remain vigilant
By Randy Jurado Ertll
The environmental community recently celebrated a victory in halting the Dakota Access Pipeline from proceeding.
The Army Corps of Engineers agreed to postpone the project. However, this is under President Barack Obama’s administration which has been supportive of environmental protection efforts.
We have to brace ourselves for 2017. On Jan. 20, President-elect Donald Trump will be officially sworn into office and he may forcefully implement an executive order for the Dakota Access Pipeline to continue.
Therefore, local, state, and national environmental groups must have a plan to counter these efforts.
President-elect Trump has sent a clear signal that he has stacked the deck with pro-business Cabinet members who have a clear track record of being anti clean air and clean water. They are clearly in favor of big corporate petro-businesses such ExxonMobil.
Native Americans have set the example that even though they are small in population numbers, their commitment to protect public lands and natural resources is gigantic. Many have risked their lives in protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Now, environmental groups must return to their community organizing roots. Many environmental groups have grown tremendously through the decades and they now have budgets in the hundreds of millions and billions such as the Nature Conservancy.
The Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, League of Conservation Voters and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) must do a better job of diversifying its staff at all levels.
These organizations must commit to diversify the U.S. environmental movement.
It is currently not ethnically diverse enough and, to make matters worse, funding sources inadequately support minority-led environmental efforts.
Environmental justice work is too often seen as merely hiring one or two people of color to do community organizing. Many times, this work is expected to be done for free.
Poor, minority communities, especially Native Americans, are the most impacted by environmental contamination. Ironically, they are the least empowered to push back, since they typically have no minority-led environmental organizations to take on their specific battles.
Mainstream environmental organizations have been around for decades, and they sometimes have massive budgets. The Nature Conservancy has assets of more than $6 billion. Imagine if such outfits would choose to fund small, minority-led grass-roots environmental groups to continue fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline.
This is not just about breaking the green ceiling, even though opportunities inside the environmental movement are scarce for people of color — especially at the executive level. We know that professional search firms are set up as a ploy (legal mechanism) to say that they searched for minorities but could not find any qualified individuals. Eventually, they already know who will be hired from the inside or as a political favor.
What is needed even more is a revolution where black, Asian, Latino, and Native American community members organize to create their own environmental nonprofits. It is not easy, but it is possible.
The California Latino Environmental Advocacy Network, the organization I helped establish, has taken the initiative to create the first statewide, Latino-led and founded environmental nonprofit in California. It’s a big step since the system makes it difficult for such groups to obtain nonprofit status and start-up sustainable funding.
Now the question is: Will funders help such an organization get off the ground? Or will CLEAN meet the fate of many environmental justice efforts, such as Madres del Este de Los Angeles, Santa Isabel, which disappeared due to lack of support and funding?
A recent report, “The State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations: Mainstream NGOs, Foundations & Government Agencies,” published by the Green 2.0 organization has some useful recommendations on this issue. Foundations, nonprofits and government agencies should integrate diversity goals into performance evaluations and grant-making criteria, it says, and environmental associations should showcase leaders. The report recommends that increased resources be allocated for diversity initiatives and that sustainable funding be provided for networking and support.
A scorecard also should be developed to see which environmental groups are making progress in relation to diversity. Similar criteria should be applied to foundations and green corporations — to assess if they are making solid progress in helping to identify and fund minority-led environmental efforts. These steps and other such efforts need to be implemented as soon as possible.
By 2017, national environmental groups should make significant progress on diversity within the environmental movement. Especially to be ready to fight and to keep the Dakota Access Pipeline from being built — which would destroy lands and natural resources. Now that would be something to celebrate and applaud: a unified and diversified environmental movement!
Let us make sure that the Access Dakota Pipeline does not get approved under the Donald Trump regime.
Jurado Ertll is executive director of the California Latino Environmental Advocacy Network.
Dear CLEAN members & supporters - please read our latest column in the Huffington Post related to Senate Bill 535 and AB 32:
California Latino Environmental Advocacy Network - CLEAN will advocate for clean air, clean water, and neighborhoods to be free of toxins and pollution.
The California Latino Environmental Advocacy Network - CLEAN will help to bring awareness and consciousness regarding important environmental issues – throughout California. Climate Change/Global Warming is not just an international issue - it is a local issue - impacting the health of millions of Californians.
CLEAN is a volunteer, community-led effort that will focus on advocating for the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act to be implemented and enforced at the local level. You can visit the Resources section of this web-site to see how much your community is contaminated via the Cal EPA search and mapping tools.
The California Latino Environmental Advocacy Network – CLEAN is composed of key environmental leaders who live and/or work within the areas that are most environmentally contaminated in Los Angeles County and throughout California.
The founders of the California Latino Environmental Advocacy Network – know first-hand the daily struggles of the working poor and middle class – creating a commitment to social justice and environmental protection.
Environmental protection is a life or death issue. CLEAN is needed because the areas most impacted by air, water, and toxics contamination take place in poor, minority communities who do not have enough money or political clout to fight back. Also, many of these community members do not realize that they are being poisoned on a daily basis. Many are getting asthma, cancer, and other illnesses due to contamination.
Therefore, the California Latino Environmental Advocacy Network was founded to help protect our environment.
Randy Ertll, Executive Director of CLEAN
Randy Jurado Ertll, advocate for environmental justice issues in low income and middle class communities, and a group of over ten community leaders and activists from various parts of California, decided to establish the California Latino Environmental Advocacy Network (CLEAN) to advocate for the protection of the environment-including clean air, clean water, protecting natural resources, and protecting communities from toxics and chemicals. Please visit web-site to obtain a complete list of the founding board members.
CLEAN was started to serve as a vehicle and voice to neglected and low income Latino community members. Thus far they have asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to conduct more thorough investigations of companies that pollute poor communities and are also using technology to make the case that it is low income, minority communities that are most harmed by air and water contamination.
CLEAN is the first Latino-established and led statewide environmental protection community based organization in California. Their dream is to build alliances and coalitions with other environmental groups to protect the environment, as a unified voice – with the gradual building of grassroots support. One step a time, CLEAN will continue to advocate for Latinos to be included in the local, state, and national environmental issues decision making process. CLEAN has already begun to advocate for mainstream environmental groups to diversity in their hiring practices.
Funding from the Pollination Project will be used for expenses such as marketing and website costs, supplies, travel costs and postage.
To learn more about California Latino Environmental Advocacy Network–CLEAN, visit their website.
SMALL GRANT AWARD DATE: January 14, 2015
For more information, please contact Randy Ertll via email at: RANDYERTLL@YAHOO.COM