California Environmental Justice Alliance Action

Framing an inspiring ballot box win for California environmental justice communities


We worked with Resource Media to tell the story about what the Prop 70 victory meant for protecting communities of color and fighting climate change. We demonstrated that we will not let California’s climate policy be held hostage by Big Oil and our communities will not back down in the fight for clean air and healthy neighborhoods.
Kay Cuajunco, California Environmental Justice Alliance Action
Communications Manager
The Situation

The fossil fuel industry wants to eviscerate California’s climate change and clean energy policies by weakening the voice and influence of the communities that shoulder the worst pollution. In advance of the June 2018 primary election, California environmental justice advocates found themselves on the defensive, having to fight off Proposition 70--a ballot initiative backed by corporate polluters and fossil fuel moneyed politicians. If passed, Prop 70 would have made it less likely for proceeds from California’s climate investments program to directly benefit low-income families and communities of color. Fortunately, California voters defeated Prop 70, with more than 60 percent voting “no.” California’s frontline communities, the individuals who are most impacted by climate change, were instrumental in resoundingly defeating this measure. After the election, California Environmental Justice Alliance Action (CEJA Action) wanted to both spread the news about this inspiring victory and lay the groundwork for future wins.

Our Role

Resource Media worked with CEJA Action to highlight what can happen when communities that bear the brunt of climate pollution stand up against Big Oil. Together, we shared the message with reporters and also influenced the messaging that CEJA Action member organizations used for op-ed and LTE (letters to the editor) submissions. Our message was that although low-income communities may never be able to outspend the oil industry dollar for dollar, they can (and do) triumph by flexing their muscle at the ballot box. Fossil fuel industry giants may have a massive lobbying budget, but frontline communities have people power on their side. In partnership with CEJA Action, Resource Media reached out to reporters before and after the election, in Spanish and English, and placed opinion content in publications throughout the state. We successfully placed stories in The Ventura County Star, Capitol Weekly, Latino Rebels, Desert News, Radio Bilingüe, and additional news outlets.

The Impact

With Prop 70, California’s diverse electorate once again played a pivotal role in blocking a measure that would have been disastrous for long-term climate action—a growing trend in California politics. But the threat of rolling back hard-fought victories on climate change remains, given that California is still one of the top oil-producing states in the country. Earned news coverage highlighted how California frontline communities bring true expertise to any conversation around climate impacts at the local level. The resounding defeat of Prop 70, combined with a flurry of media coverage statewide, also set a clear expectation for the next Governor to take a stand in support of environmental justice.

Top photo: Erick Huerta
Background photo: Kay Cuajunco