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Central California Environmental Justice Network (CCEJN): A Hub for Environmental Activism in the Valley

The Central California Environmental Justice Network (CCEJN) is dedicated to achieving social and environmental justice in the San Joaquin Valley, a significant agricultural hub grappling with environmental concerns like air pollution, water contamination, and pesticide exposure.


The Central California Environmental Justice Network (CCEJN) is dedicated to achieving social and environmental justice in the San Joaquin Valley, a significant agricultural hub grappling with environmental concerns like air pollution, water contamination, and pesticide exposure.


CCEJN empowers communities and collaborates with stakeholders to pinpoint and

  1. Establish sustainable solutions.
  2. Educates and advocates for rural communities.
  3. Fosters a safer environment through innovative approaches and involving youth.

The projects and initiatives undertaken by CCEJN are aimed at eradicating environmental racism and attaining economic and health equity in the region.

Projects for Reporting

One of CCEJN’s pivotal projects is the coordination of reporting networks: FERN (Fresno Environmental Reporting Network) and KEEN (Kern Environmental Enforcement Network).

These two networks enable residents to report environmental issues in their locales, such as:

  • Air pollution
  • Unauthorized dumping
  • Oil spills
  • Pesticide drifts

The reported concerns are subsequently forwarded to the relevant regulatory agencies for enforcement action.

Additionally, these networks serve as platforms for educating and engaging the community on environmental matters.

The reporting networks are powered by IVAN (Identifying Violations Affecting Neighborhoods), a web-based tool enabling anyone to document and map environmental violations using smartphones or computers.

IVAN was developed by CCEJN’s partner organization, Comite Civico del Valle (CCV), a grassroots group based in Imperial County that tackles similar environmental justice issues.

The reporting networks have effectively brought attention to numerous environmental issues that might have otherwise gone unnoticed or unaddressed.

For instance, in 2019, FERN received a report about a significant methane leak from an abandoned oil well in Arvin-Lamont, a rural community in Kern County.

This leak was emitting over 100 tons of methane daily, equivalent to the emissions of 1.7 million cars.

FERN alerted the local air district and state regulators, prompting the responsible company to seal the well and halt the leak.

FERN also assisted community members in organizing and demanding greater oversight and accountability from the oil industry.

Community-Centric Monitoring

CCEJN launched CBM, involving community members in monitoring using sensors or other methods, to collect data on environmental conditions affecting residents’ health and quality of life.

Such as:

  • Air quality
  • Water quality
  • Soil quality
  • Noise levels

This data can subsequently inform decision-making, advocacy efforts, or policy formulation.

An example of CBM is the balloon mapping project executed by CCEJN in collaboration with Public Lab, a nonprofit organization developing open-source tools for environmental exploration and investigation.

Balloon mapping entails using helium-filled balloons affixed with cameras to capture aerial images of a location.

These images can then be stitched together to craft high-resolution maps uncovering features not easily discernible from ground-level perspectives.

CCEJN employed balloon mapping to document the effects of oil and gas development on Kern County communities.

The maps indicated the proximity of oil wells to residences, schools, places of worship, and farms, as well as the extent of land degradation stemming from drilling activities.

Furthermore, the maps aided in identifying potential sources of air pollution or water contamination originating from oil operations.

CCEJN shared these maps with community members and utilized them as evidence to advocate for more robust regulations and safeguards against the oil industry.

Pesticide Concerns

CCEJN is also deeply engaged in addressing the issues surrounding pesticides, widely employed in agriculture but posing significant risks to human health and the environment.

Pesticides can drift from their intended targets, contaminating air, water, soil, and food.

Exposure to pesticides can result in acute or chronic health issues, including:

  • Respiratory problems
  • Skin irritation
  • Neurological disorders
  • Cancer

Children, pregnant women, farmworkers, and rural residents are especially susceptible to pesticide exposure.

CCEJN conducts community training and presentations to educate Fresno and Kern County residents about the cumulative health impacts, which arise from multiple environmental stressors affecting individuals or populations.

Central California Environmental Justice Network also provides information on reducing pesticide exposure and reporting pesticide incidents or violations.

CCEJN actively participates in coalitions and campaigns advocating for safer alternatives to pesticides, such as:

  • Organic farming
  • Integrated pest management
  • Agroecology

An example of CCEJN’s involvement in pesticide advocacy is the Chlorpyrifos Alternatives Workgroup (CAW), a statewide coalition of environmental, health, labor, and community organizations striving to phase out the use of chlorpyrifos, an extremely toxic insecticide linked to developmental and neurological harm in children.

CAW collaborates with farmers, researchers, and policymakers to identify and promote effective, affordable, and environmentally-friendly alternatives to chlorpyrifos.

CAW also educates the public and the media about the perils of chlorpyrifos and the benefits of substitutes.

Oil and Gas Concerns

Another focal point of CCEJN’s efforts is the oil and gas industry, a significant sector in the Central Valley that also contributes to environmental and societal challenges.

Oil and gas extraction encompasses various techniques, such as hydraulic fracturing (fracking), acidizing, or cyclic steaming, involving the injection of fluids or gases into the ground to extract oil or gas.

These techniques can have adverse impacts on the environment and human health, including:

  • High water consumption and generation of substantial wastewater
  • Contamination of groundwater or surface water with chemicals or pollutants
  • Emission of greenhouse gases or air pollutants contributing to climate change and smog
  • Triggering earthquakes or land subsidence
  • Disruption of wildlife habitats or ecosystems
  • Impact on the quality of life and property values of nearby residents

CCEJN has actively engaged in anti-fracking efforts that amplify the voices of San Joaquin Valley residents.

The organization has orchestrated rallies, marches, petitions, letters, testimonies, and meetings to oppose fracking and other detrimental oil and gas practices.

CCEJN has also lent support to local ordinances and state bills aiming to prohibit or regulate fracking and other oil and gas activities.

Additionally, CCEJN has forged partnerships with other groups, including Californians Against Fracking, a statewide coalition of over 200 organizations striving to halt fracking in California.


The Central California Environmental Justice Network stands as a collective of organizations and individuals dedicated to achieving social and environmental justice in the San Joaquin Valley of California.

CCEJN’s core mission revolves around empowering low-income communities of color and safeguarding the futures of their children by mitigating negative environmental impacts in the valley.

Employing a range of strategies, such as:

  1. reporting networks,
  2. community-centric monitoring,
  3. pesticide education and advocacy,
  4. oil and gas activism.

CCEJN functions as a pivotal force in environmental activism within the Central Valley.

It serves as both a focal point for environmental advocacy and a model for other regions grappling with similar challenges.


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