The Climate and Environmental Justice Movements are Building a Sustainable Future for Santa Ana (Op-ed)

Published on September 20, 2021

Op-ed featured in the Voice of OC written by Nathan Taft, Senior SAFE Cities Campaigner

Earlier this month, Santa Ana, the second most populous city in Orange County, passed a climate emergency resolution with a vote of 6-1 and put itself on a path to a climate-safe future.

That the city passed such a resolution is laudable, but not a big deal by itself – after all, thousands of cities around the globe have passed some version of a climate emergency resolution over the past few years.

No – what makes Santa Ana unique is the resolution’s contents, the example it sets, and the trajectory it lays out for our beautiful city.

Besides making Santa Ana just the 4th city in the United States (and 14th in the world) to endorse the growing call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, this resolution lays out a series of critical actions the city needs to take to tackle the twin crises of climate change and environmental injustice.

Too often, the climate movement and the environmental justice movements end up siloed – with the climate movement seeing environmental justice as an afterthought, and the environmental justice movement being too busy trying to keep its communities safe from local contaminants to focus on the bigger picture of the climate crisis.

Led by Councilmember Jessie Lopez, Santa Ana’s community is proving that doesn’t have to be the case.

In one line, the resolution calls for limiting the expansion of fossil fuels as part of the SAFE Cities movement that is phasing out fossil fuels and fast-tracking clean energy solutions to ensure a just transition. In the next line, it calls for the city to take action on the ongoing soil-lead contamination crisis here in Santa Ana, via remediation and renter protections to ensure low-income residents are not displaced by clean-up efforts.

The resolution talks about using land use law to not just keep fossil fuels out of our homes via reach codes, but also to ensure more green space for low-income communities and communities of color. It declares the city’s intention to implement a just transition to a clean energy economy – and to do so in a way that supports workers’ and organizers’ labor.

As is true with all local initiatives, Santa Ana’s leaders must follow through with actions that make these bold plans for a better future a reality for our city…

Read the full Op-ed on Voice of OC’s website

To learn more about SAFE Cities work on resolutions, head here. Or, if you’re ready to join the SAFE Cities movement that is phasing out fossil fuels and fast tracking clean energy at the local level, you can get involved here.