Green Jim Crow: How California's Climate Policies Undermine Civil Rights and Racial Equity
West Coast Land Use and Environment Group Leader Jennifer Hernandez authored an essay for The Breakthrough Institute examining how California's environmental policies have increased air and water quality at the cost of quality of life for minority communities. Ms. Hernandez recounts that growing up, her father's job with US Steel allowed the family to live comfortably, but after layoffs following the company's bankruptcy, he spent the remainder of his career working a minimum wage job as a store clerk. She explains that global competition played a role in the decline of US Steel, but so did stricter state environmental regulations that made factories less able to compete. In the years since, she says, California's air and water have become cleaner, and the state has become a leader in renewable energy and electric vehicle ownership. However, along with those developments have come the decimiation of the industrial and manufacturing sectors as well as the highest housing costs in the country. In this essay, Ms. Hernandez traces how the state's transition toward a low-carbon future has created what she terms a "Green Jim Crow era."