Eight decades after best-selling author Upton Sinclair upturned the political tables with his EPIC gubernatorial campaign in California to end poverty and "vested interests," best-selling author and Green Party candidate Luis J. Rodriguez is campaigning on a similar platform for environmental and social justice against Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown.
And never has Rodriguez been more timely and needed.
When California voters go to the polls in tomorrow's open primary, Rodriguez and his growing coalition need a million votes to send a powerful green message to Brown: It's not acceptable for nearly 9 million Californians to remain entrenched in poverty, with an estimated one out of three residents faced with unacceptable polluted air and water conditions -- in an age of climate change and historic drought.
Take note, environmental organizations and citizens groups that are vehemently against reckless fracking in a floundering Brown administration -- a million votes for Luis J. Rodriguez will send a powerful green message to Jerry Brown.
Take note, civil rights organizations and labor groups that are vehemently in favor of workplace justice and safety, including the agricultural fields of migrant workers whose very fates were vetoed by the wavering Brown administration -- a million votes for Luis J. Rodriguez will send a powerful civil rights message to Jerry Brown.
Imagine a California led by a veteran community organizer, chronicler, entrepreneur and visionary who has inspired two generations to rethink our views of the American Dream, and justice for all, from his prolific work:
Bottom line: Luis J. Rodriguez represents the future of the environmental movement, the grassroots ranks on the front lines, who are courageously organizing for a different and more sustainable economy and political process -- and his shoe-string campaign for governor, rooted in the belief of restorative justice for communities and our natural resources, is not simply admirable and inspiring, but has national implications for any efforts to build a broad, bold and enduring coalition for climate justice that matters.
One million votes for Luis J. Rodriguez in tomorrow's California primary will send a powerful message for the future of a veritable climate justice movement.
Rodriguez features six pillars on his campaign platform. Here's the environmental section:
2. Environment: Return our air, water, and land to health
We have broad laws already on the books to protect our air and water, notably the Clean Air Act (1963, 1970, 1977, 1990) and the Clean Water Act(1972, 1977, 1987). But enforcement of those laws is lacking due to a lack of resources and political will.
2.1 Fossil Fuels
Even in California where environmental values have been espoused for decades, the practice of hydraulic fracturing - or "fracking - has actually been endorsed by some Democrats, most notably Jerry Brown. While there is no surprise that the Republican candidates continue to claim that drilling for oil is the solution, the Luis J. Rodriguez Campaign supports a complete ban on the practice of fracking, tax oil production at exponential levels, and strongly supports the push away from fossil fuels throughout our economy, especially in agriculture and transportation. We also support a severance tax for oil companies that "sever" oil from the land - California is the only place on the planet that does not have such a tax.
2.2 Political Appointments
The Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency oversees the California Air Resources Board, the Department of Toxic Substances Control, the Department of Pesticide Regulation, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, and the State Water Resources Control Board -- and is appointed by the Governor of California.
The Department of Toxic Substance Control has consistently failed in its duties. It has allowed polluters to continue to pollute using a lack of staff as a cover, but the department's behavior includes reducing the fines of hazardous waste polluters, allowing hazardous waste facilities to operate without permits, and not even trying to collect $140,000,000 from polluters that walked away from contaminated sites. They collected $16 million of that money since last year when their dereliction of duty was brought to the public's attention.
2.3 Hazardous, Toxic, Waste, and Pollution
There are 5,341 EPA Superfund Sites in California, many of which have forced local community groups to organize and hold the polluters responsible. More broadly, the current political framework pits the environment against the economy -- Republicans clearly take this position, but the Democratic Party has also regularly sided on the side of polluting businesses as opposed to the poor communities where toxic waste is regularly dumped. Again, the Luis J. Rodriguez Campaign for Governor aims to connect all of these disparate and isolated struggles to build a powerful movement that imagines a new California.
2.3a Exide Technologies of Vernon CA
Exide Technologies is one of the state's worse polluters. It is a battery recycling plant in the Southeast L.A. community of Vernon that is located on a site used by various lead-removal companies since the 1920s. Luis Rodriguez, who once worked in industrial plants in L.A. for ten years, including Bethlehem Steel, St. Regis Paper Company and Chevron Chemical Refinery, among others, was a blast furnace operator at the same site in the late 1970s when National Lead owned it.
Today Exide Technologies with plume and groundwater poisoning is reportedly responsible for 25 percent of cancer cases affecting 115,000 East L.A. and Southeast L.A. residents. Despite fines, the state has yet to close down such a grievous polluter. As governor, Rodriguez would also do all he can to make sure any laid off workers get retrained and working again in clean, green and efficient jobs.