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 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. The maximum grant amount is $50,000 and the grant term is 12 months. The application period for the 2020 grant cycle is closed. In July 2020, CalEPA awarded more than $1 million in grants to for 28 projects. Read the 2020 project summaries and the press release. Information will be posted here when grant applications reopen. You can also get notifications by subscribing to the Environmental Justice Listserv.  

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.

Past Activities:

Building Our Skills Together Online Conference – June 2-4, 2020 (Free Online Conference – Joint Effort of CalEPA and Resources Agency)

The California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) and the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) partnered to produce a series of online sessions The Building Our Skills Together Online Conference, June 2 – 4, 2020, on community engagement and equity during the COVID-19 crisis. The three day conference was composed of free online sessions to hear from state, local, tribal and community leaders as well as international experts in the field of public participation and engagement. Integrated simultaneous interpretation in Spanish was made available. The conference focused on many of the topics including using digital engagement tools effectively to plan and participate in virtual online meetings, how organizations are adapting engagement practices during the COVID-19 crisis, and what it all means for equity and environmental justice. The Building Our Skills Together Conference was rooted in the experience that many people are going through during this crisis—the struggle to maintain connection in the face of the COVID-19 crisis and the even more pressing challenge to do better when it comes to authentic engagement. The crisis has highlighted once again, the pattern of deepening racial and ethnic inequities across health, the environment and the economy.