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For generations, electricity for the Central Coast region has been produced by polluting gas-fired power plants concentrated in Oxnard, a working-class community of 85% people of color. Oxnard has three power plant smokestacks along its shoreline, more than any other city on the coast of California.
Huge corporations like NRG, the largest operator of power plants in the United States, have made Oxnard the sacrifice zone. Today, many Oxnard neighborhoods are above the 90th percentile of asthma rates in California.
NRG is proposing another power plant in Oxnard, continuing a long legacy of injustice. For the past two years, hundreds of Oxnard residents have turned out to countless hearings to speak out against this plan. CAUSE has organized a coalition of local community organizations to mobilize to hearings, secure the City of Oxnard’s opposition to the power plant, do outreach door-to-door, and travel up to San Francisco to speak before state officials, led largely by local youth. Thanks to legal assistance from the California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA) we have been able to argue our case before state commissioners.
Meanwhile, seeing the intense community opposition in Oxnard, a competing energy company called Calpine has proposed a power plant in Santa Paula, another mostly low-income Latino community. CAUSE is strongly committed to ending this longstanding pattern of targeting disadvantaged communities for the most polluting projects in our region, and has brought together hundreds of residents to stand against a power plant in Santa Paula.
Voices of dissent within state leadership like the California Public Utilities Commission’s Administrative Law Judge and the California Coastal Commission have raised serious concerns with not only the environmental injustice of continuing to site power plants in a disadvantaged community like Oxnard, but also the location along the coastline in an area mapped out as at high risk of flooding from sea level rise. However, the California Energy Commission, who will be making the final decision in 2017, has issued a final staff assessment proposing to approve the power plant.
Oxnard and Santa Paula residents are standing in solidarity, drawing a line and declaring that we will no longer be the sacrifice zones and our communities deserve clean air now!