Advocating for Social and Environmental Justice in Stanislaus County and the Central Valley
Valley Improvement Projects had an eventful Earth Day weekend, participating in a meeting with US EPA officials in San Francisco on Friday 4/21 with the California Environmental Justice Coalition (CEJC), followed by a rally and march to the Federal Building and on Saturday 4/22 tabled at Modesto’s annual Earth Day Festival at Graceda Park.
San Francisco, CA – Already suffering from pollution and injustice, and alarmed by the Trump Administration’s attacks on environmental protection, health and justice, residents and grassroots groups from urban, rural and Indigenous communities most harmed and at risk from pollution united in a march and rally Friday, April 21st in front of USEPA Region IX in San Francisco. Bay Area residents from Bayview Hunters Point, Richmond, Oakland, San Leandro and Livermore were joined by Mohave Elders of the Colorado River Indian Tribes, Gila River Indian Community members, youth from East Los Angeles, people from farmworker communities in the San Joaquin and Imperial Valleys for today’s protest, communities impacted by fracking and refineries, and many others.
The rally was followed by a march to the Federal Building where the community members most at risk from Trump’s extremist pro-polluter policies. We are demanding:
Trump’s appointing of anti-environmental officials to his Cabinet and environmental agency posts, his dismantling of important regulations that protect public health and the environment, and also his proposed budget cuts would devastate environmental protections for all Americans but especially for the low-income people of color who bear the disproportionate burdens of polluting industries, toxic contamination sites, fossil fuel, climate change, and environmental racism.
On the morning of April 21st , 100 community and environmental justice advocates addressed dozens of USEPA and CalEPA officials and staff about their concerns and demands for health and justice.
The California Environmental Justice Coalition issued the Call to Action, and sixty-five diverse organizations including community, Indigenous, environmental justice, climate, health and environmental groups joined together in today’s Earth Day Action for Environmental and Climate Justice. Founded in 2015 in the farmworker town of Kettleman City in the San Joaquin Valley, the California Environmental Justice Coalition is community-led is the largest environmental justice coalition in the state.
Modesto – For the second time VIP hosted a booth at Modesto’s annual Earth Day Festival in Graceda Park, talking to our fellow community members about recycling, composting, and the various sources of local pollution.
VIP has been critical of the city event in the past but are optimistic about the changes that have been made the last two years. As advocated by VIP, local trash incinerator Covanta and petroleum company Boyett were not sponsors, more recycling receptacles are located throughout the park, and styrofoam food containers were not allowed. While there were still a few gasoline-powered generators being used, there were far less than the dozen or more used at past events. “I Heart Radio” (formerly Clear Channel), which broadcasts climate change deniers on its talk station KFIV 1360am, was also not a sponsor this year, although some of their music stations were tabling at the event.
While VIP feels that there is more that can be done to improve Modesto’s Earth Day and showcase more clean energy technologies, we are encouraged by the positive changes made recently and look forward to participating in the future.