CEJA’s 2020 CA Environmental Scorecard is out!

Image: Assemblymember Monique Límon with her A+ Courage Score poster from 2019.

It’s “Thank or Spank” time for CA legislators!

(from CEJA) “Today, the California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA) released its 8th annual Environmental Justice Scorecard. The scorecard is the only one in the state to grade legislators and the Governor on their voting and veto record on environmental justice bills. The scorecard highlights last year’s underwhelming performance by lawmakers and the Governor. …Only 5 lawmakers earned A+ grades by supporting critical Environmental Justice legislation at every turn — down from 30 in 2019. Only 17 California legislators scored 90% or higher on the Scorecard in 2020 compared to 61 legislators in 2019.” (Available in EnglishSpanishChinese or Korean

Action #1: Please email a quick note of thanks to our “A” level legislators!

We expect more from legislators who have “Democrat” after their name, and it comes as no surprise that one of those “A+” grades went to our retired Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (!!!), another one went to Sen. Henry Stern and Assemblymember (now Senator) Monique Límon got an “A.” We can’t thank them by bringing big posters to their offices like we’ve done before, but that doesn’t mean we can’t show our legislators that we appreciate their fighting for our environment. Please send a short “Congratulations/Thanks” note to the legislators who’ve made us proud!

Action #2: What’s going on with the rest of them?

Next task: Download CEJA’s full scorecard here. It has a synopsis of the bills used in the grading system and charts of how legislators fared (We’ve copied the charts below.) There are a disturbingly large number of Democratic legislators who’ve received “D” and “F” grades, equivalent to Republican grades, who may be betraying the values of their voters because of contributions from polluting industries. You can identify some of their campaign contributers through an amazing set of spreadsheets from the Sierra Club. (Note: tabs to select sheets are at the bottom. Some legislators have their own sheet. For others, just click on their name on the “Table of Contents” sheet.)

If you are disappointed your legislator’s voting record doesn’t represent the progressive values you expected of them, tell them. No one flies under the radar anymore. Find their contact information here.

State senators

State assemblymembers

Action #3: Newsom needs to do better. Tell him.

(From CEJA) “After an optimistic first year, Governor Newsom’s second year saw an unfortunate and significant backslide on environmental justice issues. Seven of nine bills we supported passed on to Newsom, and he signed four. Of the three bills we opposed, two passed and both were signed by the governor. Newsom scored 44 percent — a stark shift from his 100 percent score in 2019.

In 2020, the Governor failed to support AB 345 (Muratsuchi) which would have established an environmental justice program and vetoed a number of key measures, among them:

  • AB 995 — Passed both houses but was vetoed by Newsom. It would have brought much needed oversight and reform to the DTSC. The Governor said he supported the bill but that it did not go as far as he hoped to go on this issue with future legislation. Yet he failed to lay out a roadmap on how all parties involved in the bill could get to yes.
  • SB 1257 — Would have expanded CAL/OSHA protections for housekeepers, nannies and domestic workers, who need more workplace protections, especially in a time of COVID.
  • AB 2054 — Would have lowered the likelihood of violent encounters with police by making funds available for communities to train unarmed crisis counselors that could be sent to certain incidents in lieu of armed officers.

In addition to vetoing these strong pieces of legislation, the Governor also signed two bills that CEJA and its member organizations opposed: 

  • SB 288 — Yet another bill that undermines CEQA and its critical environmental protections by giving more leash to development.
  • AB 3163 — Allows biomethane producers to count this fuel toward state climate targets. Bad for ratepayers and very bad for carbon emissions.

Minimal script to Newsom: I’m want Gov. Newsom to know that CEJA’s report on his actions last year was very disappointing. I want him to recommit to working closely again with environmental justice groups to identify and act on transformative solutions to our climate and economic crises, and to actively collaborate with the Legislature on passing difficult policies. California has a true opportunity to lead as our nation recovers from this pandemic by thoughtfully addressing environmental and economic inequities.

Contact Gov. Newsom: email(916) 445-2841 

How does CEJA grade legislators?

First, who is part of this group? Check out their members and partners page here.

CEJA’s EJ Scorecard is an attempt to evaluate— comprehensively and fairly — every California legislator and their performance on environmental justice issues. Votes alone, however, cannot capture the entirety of a representative’s contribution (or disruption) to the environmental justice movement. To that end, this year we included Community Points in our evaluation. Each of CEJA’s 10 member and partner organizations were given the opportunity to award up to three bonus points to legislators who significantlycontributed to California’s environmental justice movement by upholding our Environmental Justice Principles. The member and partner organizations were also allowed to subtract up to three points from legislators who showed a disappointing lack of commitment to those principles. Examples of ways legislators showed a commitment to these principles include (but are not limited to) engaging in environmental justice-focused town halls, entering into a respectful dialogue with environmental justice community leaders, trusting local expertise, and attending tours of environmental justice communities. Examples of ways legislators did not show a commitment to these principles, and for which they earned negative Community Points, include (but are not limited to) being inaccessible to community members, sponsoring or strongly supporting legislation that CEJA opposed, or taking no action when their constituents faced strong injustices.

While voting records still compose the overwhelming weight of the scores, we hope that Community Points serve as a reminder that when it comes to environmental justice, a representative’s job goes well beyond casting votes.

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