SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today celebrates the second anniversary of the Bureau of Environmental Justice (Bureau). The Bureau was established by Attorney General Becerra on February 22, 2018, to fight for clean air, clean water, and a sustainable climate for all Californians.
“The Bureau of Environmental Justice has helped those vulnerable communities hit first and worst by today’s climate emergency,” said Attorney General Becerra. “The Bureau has fought hard to protect our state’s natural resources by standing against efforts to roll back environmental protections and attempts to impede California’s right to adopt and enforce more protective laws. Today we celebrate two years of championing environmental justice as we continue to lead the way towards a healthier and safer planet.”
The Bureau’s mission is to protect people and communities that endure a disproportionate share of environmental pollution and public health hazards. The Bureau has also worked to:
- Ensure compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and land use planning laws. For example, in November 2018, the Bureau submitted a comment letter regarding the deepwater marine terminal and cement plant proposed by Orcem in Vallejo, highlighting the project’s inadequate air quality and environmental justice analyses. As a result, the city required the project applicants to conduct additional environmental review. The Attorney General submitted several comment letters, including in Los Angeles in June 2018, Irwindale in January 2019, and Fontana in January 2019, September 2019, and October 2019, relating to the lead agencies’ environmental analyses of the air quality and cumulative impacts of large warehouse projects located near communities that are exposed to some of the highest levels of air pollution in the state.
- Support local governments’ efforts to protect the health and safety of their most vulnerable residents. In December 2018, the Bureau filed an amicus brief in the Ninth Circuit supporting the City of Oakland’s right to protect residents from coal transport pollution. Also, in June 2018, the Bureau submitted a strong letter of support for an effort by the City of Arvin to pass an ordinance requiring new oil and gas operations to be more protective of public health and safety.
- Challenge the federal government’s actions that repeal or reduce public health and environmental protections. For example, the Bureau, along with two other states, challenged the U.S. EPA’s rollback of critical safeguards for agricultural workers in May 2018. As a result, EPA withdrew its decision.