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The California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA): A Statewide Movement for Environmental Health and Social Justice

The California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA) is a coalition of grassroots, environmental justice organizations that work to achieve environmental justice by advancing policy solutions.

CEJA unites the powerful local organizing of its members in the communities most impacted by environmental hazards – low-income communities and communities of color – to create comprehensive opportunities for change at a statewide level.

California Environmental Justice Alliance
California Environmental Justice Alliance | photo courtesy | CEJA


In this article, we will explore the mission, vision, history, and accomplishments of California Environmental Justice Alliance, as well as some of the current challenges and opportunities it faces.

California Environmental Justice Alliance’s Mission and Vision

California Environmental Justice Alliance’s mission is to build a California where families breathe:

  1. Clean air.
  2. Drink clean water.
  3. Healthy.
  4. Safe housing.

CEJA envisions a state where communities are powered by sustainable energy, and where elected representatives and regulatory agencies protect the health and futures of working families, including Black, Latino, Indigenous, and Asian immigrant families, and not the profits of big polluters.

California Environmental Justice Alliance believes in a just transition away from extractive, dangerous industries and towards a care-based and sustainable economy.

CEJA also works for a democracy that values the needs of its most vulnerable communities and holds polluters accountable.

California Environmental Justice Alliance’s History and Accomplishments

CEJA was founded in 2001 by six environmental justice organizations from different regions of California:

  1. Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN).
  2. Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice (CCAEJ).
  3. Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment (CRPE).
  4. Communities for a Better Environment (CBE).
  5. Environmental Health Coalition (EHC).
  6. People Organizing to Demand Environmental & Economic Rights (PODER).

Since then, CEJA has grown to include two more members:

  1. Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE).
  2. Leadership Counsel for Justice & Accountability (LCJA).

CEJA has been at the forefront of many environmental justice campaigns and policy victories in California.

Some of its notable achievements include:

  • Passing the Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing (SOMAH) program in 2017, which provides incentives for installing solar panels on low-income multifamily housing units.
  • Securing $1 billion in funding for the Transformative Climate Communities (TCC) program in 2016, which supports community-led projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the quality of life in disadvantaged neighborhoods.
  • Advocating for the passage of SB 100 in 2018, which sets a goal for California to achieve 100% clean energy by 2045.
  • Launching the Green Zones Initiative in 2010, which aims to create healthy, thriving, and resilient communities in areas that have been overburdened by pollution and disinvestment.
  • Producing the annual Environmental Justice Scorecard, which evaluates how California legislators vote on key environmental justice bills.

Current Challenges and Opportunities

Despite its many successes, CEJA still faces many challenges and opportunities in its ongoing work for environmental justice.

Some of the current issues that California Environmental Justice Alliance is addressing include:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic, which has disproportionately affected low-income communities and communities of color, exposing the underlying health inequities and environmental injustices that they face.
  • The climate crisis, which poses an existential threat to humanity and the planet, requires urgent action to reduce emissions, adapt to impacts, and support frontline communities.
  • The fossil fuel industry, continues to resist the transition to clean energy and exploit natural resources at the expense of public health and environmental protection.
  • The need for more community engagement, education, and empowerment, especially among youth, women, immigrants, and other marginalized groups who are often excluded from decision-making processes that affect their lives.


The California Environmental Justice Alliance is a statewide movement for environmental health and social justice that has been working for over two decades to transform California into a more equitable and sustainable place.

By uniting grassroots organizations from different regions and sectors, California Environmental Justice Alliance has been able to influence policy change at the state level and support community-led solutions at the local level.

CEJA’s work is guided by its mission, vision, history, and accomplishments, as well as by its awareness of the current challenges and opportunities that it faces.

CEJA is an inspiring example of how collective action can make a difference in creating a better future for all.


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