July 13, 2017: A Fight for the Air We Breathe

No child should struggle for breath because of polluted air.

One of the reasons Jovanka Beckles ran for the Richmond City Council was to fight to reduce air pollution. She saw the devastation first-hand in August of 2012 when the Chevron Refinery burst into flames and sent thousands of local residents to hospital emergency rooms with respiratory issues.

 

In Richmond environmental issues are not abstract but are problems that must be confronted everyday. It is estimated that 17% of Richmond kids have asthma, while the national average is 8%.[1]

Under pressure from local leaders like Jovanka, Chevron signed an Environmental and Community Investment Agreement. This agreement ensured the corporation would pay $90 million to upgrade safety components at the Richmond plant and support community programs such as $30 million in college scholarships for Richmond high school graduates. Jovanka fought for Doctors Medical Center to be saved in the agreement, as DMC was the only remaining trauma center in West Contra Costa County. 

With a strong record of putting environmental protections before corporate profits, it was no surprise when Big Oil PACs spent millions to try and remove Jovanka and progressive candidates from office. Despite the overwhelming odds Richmond residents rejected Chevron’s political agenda, and re-elected Jovanka and the progressive slate in a landslide.

For her courage, her work and success standing up to Big Oil interests and fighting for her community she was awarded “the Phil Burton Badge of Courage” from the SF Bay Chapter of the Sierra Club in 2015.

With nearly constant pressure from big polluters, Richmond, Berkeley, Emeryville, Albany, Oakland and Californians need an environmental champion like Jovanka in Sacramento.

To learn more about Jovanka’s decade of environmental victories read these stories by KQED ScienceLA Times and local news outlet Richmond Confidential!

[1] http://www.cbecal.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Richmond-Health-Survey1.pdf