A majority of California assembly members received an “F” Grade for ties to oil and gas in the newly released scorecard by VISION, an environmental justice coalition.
This scorecard is unique from others because it reviews the past 9 years of service. This allows for a more extensive inspection of each officeholder. The VISION Scorecard weighs recent votes more heavily.
“Grades were calculated by rewarding legislative actions that prioritize public health and climate justice principles and penalizing legislators’ voting records when they prioritize oil and gas industry interests and profits,” explained Kobi Naseck, the coalition coordinator.
According to the Scorecard, nearly 50 percent of assembly members and 36 percent of senators received an “F” grade for their ties to the fossil fuel industry. Only 30 percent of assembly members received an “A” grade and 24 percent of senators.
The purpose of providing this information is to educate Californian constituents about the progress of environmental legislation in their state and identify CA state representatives who are aiding this movement and who are not.
The scorecard highlights individuals who are consistent in standing with environmental justice communities and names them “Champions.” They are listed below: Assembly members: AssMarc Levine (D); Laura Friedman (D); Richard Bloom (D); Al Muratsuchi (D); Senators: Ben Allen (D); Henry Stern (D); Anthony Portantino (D); Monique Limón (D); Scott Wiener (D).
“These champions don’t just cast good votes, they author bills,” said Cesar Aguirre with Central California Environmental Justice Network. “They use their platform to advocate for justice and engage with communities to find solutions to critical environmental problems.”
In an online briefing, VISION invited guest speakers to speak about their experiences. They highlighted the real hardships faced by frontline communities impacted by environmental injustice.
Wendy Miranda, a UCLA grad student and active member of Communities for a Better Environment, explained how growing up in Wilmington, CA, influenced her decision to study public health and urban planning. It is home to one of the largest oil drilling concentrations in LA and there are multiple refineries near her house. Her education has allowed her to make
connections between her home and her community members’ health. Her mother uses a nebulizer every day to treat her asthma and she remembers her neighborhood friend’s nosebleeds, headaches, and asthma conditions.
“It has affected my own health,” she said. “I like to run and over the years I have noticed how I have to use my inhaler prior to running now.”
This story is similar to Anabel Marquez’s own story. She is a resident of Kern County, who lives in Shafter.
“Our air, water, and soil are all contaminated, and it is hard to tell those suffering that it will get better,” said Marquez.
She has often been asked why she does not simply move away. Her reply is always another question: “Where do we go? Where is there no petroleum industry?”
Even with recent environmental legislation, there are still deep issues of economic and environmental equity with the benefits produced.
“People need to realize that their environmental benefits are a privilege,” Anthony Rendon, CA, Assemblyman, said.
Each speaker shared their support for Bill SB 467 and called for legislators to improve their scores this year.