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Commissioner Blog: CPUC Creates Environmental and Social Justice Action Plan to Help Prioritize Equity

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By Commissioners Martha Guzman Aceves and Clifford Rechtschaffen

 

Today, as the nation debates the ambitious, equity centered proposals included in the Green New Deal, we at the CPUC approved an Environmental and Social Justice Action Plan that will serve as a roadmap to implement the CPUC's vision of advancing equity in its programs and policies.

The Plan lays out nine key goals, with objectives and concrete actions attached to each goal. The goals are:

  1. Consistently integrate equity and access considerations throughout CPUC proceedings and other efforts
  2. Increase investment in clean energy resources to benefit environmental and social justice communities (ESJ communities), especially to improve local air quality and public health
  3. Strive to improve access to high-quality water, communications, and transportation services for ESJ communities
  4. Increase climate resiliency in ESJ communities
  5. Enhance outreach and public participation opportunities for ESJ communities to meaningfully participate in the CPUC's decision-making process and benefit from CPUC programs
  6. Enhance enforcement to ensure safety and consumer protection for ESJ communities
  7. Promote economic and workforce development opportunities in ESJ communities
  8. Improve training and staff development related to environmental and social justice issues within the CPUC's jurisdiction
  9. Monitor the CPUC's environmental and social justice efforts to evaluate how they are achieving their objectives

The Plan identifies ways the CPUC can use its authority to address health and safety, consumer protection, and enforcement across the industries we regulate. The Plan also highlights how the CPUC can engage directly with ESJ communities, build relationships, and gather more information about the issues ESJ communities face and the ways they would like to engage with the CPUC.

The Plan acknowledges the reality that not all Californians are starting from the same place, and that the CPUC's responsibility is to serve Californians in a way that helps address those inequities. While we don't have control over everything, we can make sure that our work and our programs strive to provide everyone with the consumer protections and other benefits they deserve from the CPUC.

Advancing environmental justice has long been a goal for California; in 2000, California adopted legislation that required environmental justice to be part of the state's mission. Since that time, California has adopted numerous statues that direct the CPUC to incorporate environmental and social justice objectives into its work.

In addition to coinciding with the broader debate around the Green New Deal, our action today takes place in the month of the 25th anniversary of former President Bill Clinton's Executive Order 12898, "Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations."

We hope the public will continue to engage with us and provide input as we work through the Plan's actions, next steps, and timelines.  

You can read more about our work for disadvantaged communities on our website.

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