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Advancing Tribal Health and Wellness through Meaningful Government-to-Government Consultation in State and Local Environmental Decision-making

State and local environmental agencies regularly make decisions that have particular repercussions for the health and wellness of tribal citizens. These citizens’ physical, mental, and spiritual wellness is tied to environmental health, food sovereignty, and the ability to maintain and continue to evolve their traditional practices, language, and cultural identity. Examples of such repercussions include permitting projects that emit pollutants; siting of dams, roads, and other structures that impede access to ancestral territory; and water resource and land management activities affecting historical, cultural, and spiritual sites outside of current tribal lands and jurisdiction. Meaningfully engaging tribes in the environmental decision-making process is critical to promoting the health of their citizens. 

This study will examine the extent to which health and wellness outcomes for tribal citizens are tied to state policies requiring state and local agencies to engage in government-to-government consultation with tribes when carrying out environmental decision-making activities impacting tribal cultural resources.  

The research team will focus on California laws, primarily Senate Bill 18 and Assembly Bill 52, requiring tribal consultation in drafting land use plans and carrying out environmental impact studies. The project team will examine how well these policies promote tribal sovereignty, increase the meaningful role of Tribes in environmental decision-making, have tribally relevant outcomes, and beneficially impact the holistic health of tribal citizens.

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Advancing Racial Equity Through Climate Policy: Environmental, Economic and Health Equity Outcomes and Implications of CA's Climate Investment Program

While climate change and pollution hurt everyone, communities of color suffer first and worst. As a state where the majority of the population are people of color, California cannot reach its ambitious climate, energy, and racial equity goals without addressing the most polluted areas in the state. Existing climate change policies and programs have not adequately ensured green solutions and technologies benefit disadvantaged communities. Communities of color and low-income communities too often lack access to green programs, resources, and opportunities and environmental investments frequently fail to reach the communities most in need.  

Senate Bill 535 and Assembly Bill 1550, combined, require the state to dedicate a minimum of 35 percent of revenues raised through Cap-and-Trade to communities that are environmentally overburdened and socially vulnerable. This was an explicit effort to promote health, economic, and racial equity in California's climate policy strategy.

This project will research and evaluate the implementation of the $12.6 billion California Climate Investment program (SB 535 and AB 1550) in creating solutions that promote health, economic, and racial equity in environmentally disadvantaged communities, asking:  

  1. What are the equity outcomes associated with the implementation of SB 535 and AB 1550?  

  1. How do implemented projects perform against the Greenlined Economy Community Investment Standards and USC's Measures Matter recommendations with regards to definitions of equity, implementation processes, and equity metrics?  

  1. What are the equity strengths and weaknesses of the program design?  

  1. Have any strategies emerged that address racial disparities through structural interventions implemented via the program?  

This analysis will provide invaluable insight as to how federal, state, and local governments can advance climate change investments in ways that maximize equity outcomes, incorporate community perspectives, and create conditions where people, planet, and prosperity can thrive. Specifically, the research study will highlight successful practices from California that are primed for replication, as well as address program shortcomings for improvement. 

Date Funded