San Francisco, CA–The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Thursday adopted Version 2.0 of its Environmental and Social Justice Action Plan to guide its decisions and make sure its broad regulatory authority continues to advance equity throughout the state.
Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people in the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental policies. The Environmental and Social Justice Action Plan Version 2.0 recognizes the disproportionate impacts of environmental hazards in communities of color and identifies ways the CPUC can use its regulatory authority to address funding and resources for these communities to mitigate the outcomes of past inequities and barriers.
Over the last two years, the CPUC has taken many steps forward to integrate Environmental and Social Justice principles into its decision-making processes across the essential utility services the CPUC regulates. The update reflects comments received from the public and learnings from ongoing implementation activities outlined in Version 1.0, including updated priorities due to COVID-19, rising utility rates and the impacts on vulnerable Californians, and alignment on the CPUC’s diversity, equity, and inclusion activities.
While goals in Version 2.0 of the Environmental and Social Justice Action Plan largely remain the same, the Action Plan has been revised to align with the state’s goal of promoting high road careers for economically or environmentally disadvantaged communities and outlines a work plan to achieve each of the nine goals and objectives centered on themes of equity, access, engagement, resiliency, safety and enforcement, metrics, accountability, and staff training.
“Version 2.0 of the ESJ Action Plan furthers our efforts to continue to build greater equity in the CPUC’s programs and services,” said CPUC President Alice Busching Reynolds. “By considering climate resiliency, Version 2.0 thoughtfully introduces the development of community engagement plans to reach out to disadvantaged vulnerable communities and describe specific actions electric and gas utilities will take in those communities, as they assess the long-term vulnerabilities to climate change.”
“One area where I have seen the ESJ Action Plan playing a key role is in our rail proceedings,” said Commissioner Genevieve Shiroma. “For every rail crossing, we evaluate how the projects can improve safety, increase access to transportation and economic opportunities, and improve air quality. We also keep a close eye on whether the projects will bisect disadvantaged communities, create environmental pollutants, or harm cultural resources. This type of analysis is crucial and the ESJ Action Plan allows us to advance environmental and social justice goals in a consistent and steadfast manner.”
The CPUC regulates services and utilities, protects consumers, safeguards the environment, and assures Californians’ access to safe and reliable utility infrastructure and services.