Environmental Justice Program

What is Environmental Justice?

The principles of environmental justice call for fairness, regardless of race, color, national origin or income, in the development of laws and regulations that affect every community’s natural surroundings, and the places people live, work, play and learn.

California was one of the first states in the nation to codify environmental justice in statute. Beyond the fair treatment called for in code, leaders in the environmental justice movement work to include those individuals disproportionately impacted by pollution in decision making processes. The aim is to lift the unfair burden of pollution from those most vulnerable to its effects.

Environmental Justice Small Grants

The CalEPA Environmental Justice (EJ) Small Grants are available to help eligible non-profit (501(c)(3) IRS tax designated) community organizations and federally-recognized Tribal governments to address environmental justice issues in areas disproportionately affected by environmental pollution and hazards. 

On January 17, 2020, Agency Secretary Blumenfeld directed the release for Notice of Funding Availability for the 2020 Cycle of the CalEPA EJ Small Grants Program with at least $1 million will be available for award.  The maximum grant amount is $50,000 and the grant term is 12 months.

Deadline for applications is April 17, 2020.  For more information, visit the EJ Funding page.

CalEnviroScreen Version 3.0

CalEnviroScreen 3.0 is a screening methodology that can be used to help identify California communities that are disproportionately burdened by multiple sources of pollution. It is an important tool in meeting CalEPA’s commitment to environmental justice for all.

CalEPA Environmental Justice Task Force

The CalEPA Environmental Justice Task Force (EJ Task Force) operates under CalEPA’s Enforcement Program. It coordinates the compliance and enforcement work of CalEPA’s boards, departments and office in areas of California that are burdened by multiple sources of pollution and are disproportionately vulnerable to its effects. The EJ Task Force develops new initiatives in communities where increased compliance has the potential to have the greatest impact.


Initiative: Imperial County
In 2018, the Task Force completed its first environmental justice initiative in a rural setting and the first with county-wide emphasis. The initiative addressed farmworker protections, cross-border pollution and illegal off-road vehicle activity. CalEnviroScreen 3.0 indicates that much of the county’s census tracts fall within the top 80th to 95th percentile of census tracts in California for pesticide applications, homes near solid waste facilities and homes near businesses that generate hazardous waste. Nearly 30 percent of 261 inspections resulted in findings of noncompliance or violations. See the Imperial County Initiative Report.


Image of Pomona Initiative Report coverInitiative: Pomona
In 2017-2018, the Task Force conducted an initiative focused on the industrial corridor of southeast Pomona and surrounding residential neighborhoods. CalEnviroScreen estimates the total pollution burden of this area is at the 92nd percentile, meaning only 8 percent of areas in California have a higher cumulative pollution burden. For an overview of this initiative, please see the Pomona Initiative Report (PDF, 2.3 MB). See the interactive Pomona Storymap.



Initiative: Oakland
In 2016-2017, the Task Force conducted an initiative focused on the communities of East and West Oakland. Both communities are overburdened by multiple sources of pollution and high rates of childhood asthma, according to CalEnviroScreen. For an overview of this initiative, please see the Oakland Initiative Report (PDF, 4MB).



Initiative: Los Angeles
In 2015-2016, the Task Force conducted an initiative focused on the Los Angeles communities of Boyle Heights and Pacoima. Both communities are among the top 5 percent of disadvantaged communities in California, according to CalEnviroScreen. For an overview of this initiative, please see the Los Angeles Initiative Report (PDF, 6MB).



FresnoReportInitiative: Fresno
In 2013-2014, the Task Force selected a portion of the city of Fresno and its surrounding unincorporated area for its first initiative, with the goal of increasing compliance with environmental laws in this area. For an overview of this pilot initiative, see the Fresno Initiative Report (PDF, 12MB).