Environmental Justice

Governor Jerry Brown recently said, “humanity is on a collision course with nature.”  He was referring to climate change and the early advent of the fire season here in California.  In related remarks, Brown said we have to “live with nature.”

The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment

Last week, the state of California released a new interactive online map that lets you look at how environmentally burdened your neighborhood is compared to the rest of the state. The tool, called CalEnviroScreen 2.0 combines both data on pollution sources and the demographics of a community, including poverty, unemployment and linguistic isolation to compute a score that reflects a community’s overall environmental burden.

The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment

A new ranking of environmental health in California shows that many Fresno County neighborhoods rank among the worst in the state when it comes to pollution.

The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment's CalEnviroScreen 2.0 database examines how the state's approximately 8,000 census tracts rank on a variety of indicators in two major areas: pollution exposure and socioeconomic factors that increase vulnerability to pollution. The database combines the two to give each tract a score.

Rebecca Plevin / Valley Public Radio

Maricela Mares Alatorre says she has a “hate-hate” relationship with Kettleman City’s water, which contains unsafe amounts of naturally occurring arsenic.

“Usually, very early in the morning or late at night, there’s like a petroleum smell, like gas,” Alatorre says. “Sometimes during the day, while we’re washing the dishes, we’ll have a white dish, and all of a sudden, we’ll see the water is totally brown.” 

Courtesy of Teresa De Anda

When you arrive at Teresa De Anda’s house on the edge of Earlimart, you might think the biggest health threat here is her pack of dogs. But from De Anda’s perspective, the almond orchard directly across the street, and the nearby vineyards and fields, are much more dangerous.

“It’s nice not having neighbors across the street, but it’s not nice having all the spraying and the tilling and the dirt and the bees,” De Anda says.

Rebecca Plevin / Valley Public Radio

Bob Mitchell grew up in a vibrant neighborhood.

“We had cleaners, ice cream parlors, and the types of amenities that make a community whole,” Mitchell recalls.

But over the years, the community changed.

“As Fresno continued to grow, West Fresno began to see its demise,” he says. “West Fresno was one of the older communities, but as you can see now, it is just a shell of what it once was.” 

When It Comes to Sustainability, Look to Huron

Sep 30, 2013
Ray Leon / Zocalo Public Square

Rey Leon works on sustainability in the city of Huron, California. Sustainability is a common enough word on the California coast, where hybrid cars, organic food, and solar power are status symbols as green as the money that buys them. But what does sustainability mean in Huron, population 6,733?