Land of Risk, Land of Opportunity: Cumulative Environmental Vulnerabilities in California’s San Joaquin Valley


Getting Jumped by Pollution: To read the full report or the executive summary, please visit: http://bit.ly/ucdceva.

Statement from Rey Leon, Founder and Executive Director of SJV Latino Environmental Advancement Project (Valley LEAP):

Valley LEAP’s economic equity arm, the Regional Green Jobs Coalition, is made up of over 300 allies representing, community, entrepreneurs, labor, non-profits, government and business.  Being consistent with this reports findings, we are striving to develop a region with a new economy that has a moral character and culture to provide a social structure that cares for people first while enhancing the environment and building local high road jobs and economy.

Study after study has shared the story of poverty and vulnerability.  This report helps connect the dots with how pollution is involved and effectively impacts the socio-economic downward spiral that has paralyzed our regions human development.

This is concerning to us because of the consequences entailed to the Latino community which currently represents over 40% of the Valley and is disproportionately impacted by these indicators.  While the region is the fastest growing in the state, the Latino community is the fastest growing community in the region.  Without a doubt, the future of the Latino community is the Future of the Valley, hence, to have a strong and prosperous region we must remedy the issues impacting the Latino Community.

In order to advance the economic development of the region we need to focus on a sustainable green economy that can provide benefits and co-benefits to advancing the social and environmental status of all residents and communities in the region.  These advancements would include localized manufacturing of new technologies to enhance the environment, including air, water and land, while creating jobs, impacting at least 80% of the region.  This would require vocational opportunities to build the skills of farmworkers and others in preparation of high road jobs, educational opportunities for students, and English learning programs for adults.  The goal is to allow employers and employees to effectively participate, together, in diversifying the economy with a new culture of engagement to improve quality of life for all with particular attention to those communities that are most vulnerable.

Apart from the other challenges, siloes are contributing to the downward spiral.  Economic Development must focus to remedy economic inequities where the identified vulnerabilities exist.  Less healthy and less educated people provide for an unstable regional economic foundation.  Innovative and firm regulations to enhance environment paired with creative incentives to stimulate job creation can help green the economy (Green Economic Empowerment Zones) and develop the human potential of our regions greatest resource, the people. Not only will the 51% of the residents in elevated risk and the 31% at extreme risk will benefit immensely of what can result as a response to this reports findings but also farmers, small businesses, entrepreneurs and all air breathers!

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