Our History

The California Environmental Rights Alliance was founded in January 2003 by many of California’s most experienced and effective environmental health and justice advocates. We created the California Environmental Rights Alliance to serve the needs of communities of color, low-income residents, and other underrepresented populations confronting California’s worst environmental problems and enjoying the fewest environmental assets.

The needs of our constituency include

  • Environmental policies that truly protect the right of California residents to safe and healthy environments where they live, work, learn, and play;
  • Public participation opportunities for all California residents to exercise their right to speak for themselves in decision-making processes that impact their health, safety, and quality of life;
  • The reduction and prevention of pollution in communities with the greatest environmental burdens;
  • The implementation of land use decisions that prevent, minimize, or eliminate impacts upon the environment and public health;
  • Full, equitable, and effective enforcement of environmental laws;
  • Meaningful and easily understandable processes for resolving complaints to regulatory agencies; and
  • The abandonment of the “decide-announce-defend” decision-making model and the adoption of the Precautionary Principle, which places the burden of proof on polluters, incorporates community-based concerns, and supports alternatives that prevent, minimize, or eliminate environmental harm.

Prior to the creation of the California Environmental Rights Alliance, our staff and advisory board members participated in a wide range of battles over environmental health and justice issues. Our staff and advisory board members have succeeded in fighting everything from cement kilns emitting dioxins to a proposal to dump radioactive waste on sacred Native American lands.

Other examples of our past work include efforts to

  • reduce the causes of breast cancer
  • clean up a neighborhood contaminated with DDT
  • stop a proposal to build a power plant in a heavily polluted community
  • remove household lead hazards in East Los Angeles
  • prevent the expansion of a freeway through an environmental justice community
  • limit and mitigate the expansion of polluting activities at the Port of Los Angeles
  • shut down a hazardous waste facility in South Central Los Angeles
  • convince the Los Angeles Unified School District to adopt a pesticide use policy based upon the Precautionary Principle

The California Environmental Rights Alliance relies upon your generosity to make our work possible.  Please see our Donate section to learn how you can support our efforts.