California Latinx Community Fights for their Future

By: Lauren Gaytan and Déjà Thomas

When planning commissions no longer listen to the citizens, citizens will make their voices heard. That is what community activists, like Raul Lopez, are doing in the fight for clean air and a healthy Oxnard, California in this video: Screen Shot 2017-06-07 at 1.19.15 PM.png

(Image credit Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy)

Oxnard, California is a small farm-working community of color in Southern California that has mobilized their community to voice their concerns for their assets and dreams for the future, in the face of a proposed power plant, the Puente Power Project.

Despite, residing in a county with top rated beaches and impeccable views, Oxnard residents live with three power plants, and are unable to use their beach due to a number of pollutants, a superfund site, and other industrial areas. This largely Latinx, immigrant, and farming community that is proud to have once been the home of Cesar Chavez, has been demonstrating their care for the coastline and wetlands for at least a generation. Now they must also fight for clean air and clean beaches as NRG is attempting to build a new coastal power plant in the city.

The new NRG coastal power plant, if approved, would replace two of the three existing power plants. This would leave the city with two coastal power plants along with all of the other pollutants. The citizens of Oxnard, including groups like Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE), Future Leaders of America, and the Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project, have voiced their concerns to City Council. City Council agreed with the citizens’ concerns, unanimously voting against the construction of a new power plant and the demolition of two. However, the Public Utilities Commission has the power to override the city. Therefore, NRG is going that route to get construction approved.

CAUSE, and other community members, have to now voice their opposition in commission hearings and protests. They have recently voiced their concerns at the last public hearing, and have been tirelessly working to better their community. 

As California continues to push forward for a greener economy, Oxnard residents are demanding the same economic, recreational, and aesthetic opportunities that other cities along California’s coast experience. This starts with renewable energy. California has committed to reach 50% clean energy by 2030, and a new bill is pending in the legislature that would put the state on a path to 100% clean energy by 2045. CAUSE believes  their vision for the future is paved with good jobs and clean air for children, which must come from local renewable energy and more economic investment. We agree.

Oxnard, California is a community at the frontlines of pollution fighting for its rights to not have to live with toxic emissions. Visit CAUSE's website to learn more about how you can help Oxnard, California and share Raul’s video on social media. 

Lauren Gaytan is a Green For All volunteer and recent graduate of the University of California, Berkeley majoring in Environmental Studies. She is passionate about digital media, environmental justice, and lifting up POC and QTPOC communities through storytelling and advocacy. 

Déjà Thomas is a recent graduate of Santa Clara University with an Environmental Studies and Communications double major, and a minor in entrepreneurship. She passionately believes that environmental movements have cultural and social components, and wants to find innovative ways to empower marginalized communities through business.

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