"Environmental Justice" for low-income neighborhoods

Legislators rated on their "green" cred in poor communities

Some of San Diego's state legislators are being praised for their high scores on a first annual "Environmental Justice Scorecard," released this week by a collective of environmental activist groups.

The report is published by the California Environmental Justice Alliance, a collection of organizations from around the state, including San Diego's Environmental Health Coalition. The group focuses specifically on organizing in low-income areas heavily populated by minorities, which are frequently heavily impacted by pollution.

"This scorecard is one of the few efforts in the state to assess how well California’s elected officials supported actions to address the environmental issues that impact low-income communities and communities of color," reads the introduction of the report, which was timed to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the issuance of Executive Order 12898, issued by president Bill Clinton and directed toward federally funded agencies to protect such neighborhoods from "being subject to disproportionately high and adverse environmental effects."

Such issues have been hotly contested in Barrio Logan in recent months, as a citywide referendum supported by mayor-elect Kevin Faulconer seeks to reverse a community plan that would have limited industrial growth in the community. Barrio Logan lies between a freeway and a host of shipyards, with commercial and industrial facilities that support them dispersed throughout the area.

The alliance ranked legislators based on their supported positions on ten environmental bills proposed in Sacramento during 2013, on topics ranging from violation enforcement at toxic-waste facilities to reducing air pollution.

State senator Marty Block and assemblywoman Toni Atkins were singled out for their respective scores of 89 and 87.5.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez and senator Ben Hueso, whose districts include the Barrio Logan neighborhood, received scores of 75 and 78, respectively.

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