July 13, 2015
Sacramento, CA — Researchers from the University of California, Davis, joined Cal-EPA, El Comite Civico del Valle, SJV LEAP, and Central California Environmental Justice Network to release a report on the IVAN statewide project. This report, titled “From Testimony to Transformation–The Identifying Violations Affecting Neighborhoods (IVAN) Program in California” studies the impact that these environmental justice networks are having on local communities and statewide policy and regulation making.
Over the last 12 months, UC Davis researchers have been conducting an evaluation of the networks via interviews, demonstrations, case studies, and several events that have informed the final report that serves as the first published report about the emergence, implementation, and future of the IVAN platform. The report begins with a discussion about community monitoring efforts, within the context of enforcement projects, establishes the need for these projects and the history and evolution of IVAN. The report also goes to detail case scenarios from different areas of the state, and ends with recommendations for expanding the usefulness of these projects.
Some of the recommendations highlighted include the need for diversified funding strategies to make the networks sustainable (i.e. the use of Supplemental Environmental Projects), the development of standardized performance measures, linking the platforms directly to Cal-EPA platforms, and increasing the environmental literacy of residents as they seek to participate in these projects. All of those recommendations are important and the IVAN partners have recognized them as priorities for moving forward with this project. Currently, there are already efforts underway to turn all of those recommendations into reality.
At the Summit, leaders from across the state joined the hosts for more detailed discussions. The Summit opened with a panel of community partners, who are the active members leading the networks in Imperial, Kings, Fresno and Kern Counties. This panel discussed the ways in which the networks are fundamentally changing the way we understand public participation, and enforcement and compliance actions across the state. A funders panel followed with foundations and government agencies that have invested in the networks. The funders were able to highlight the importance of seeking community benefits as a good return to their investments, and also gave recommendations to house these networks as avenues for community health, education, and other issues outside of environmental justice.
In the afternoon, government partners took the stage to talk about their experiences and participation within the networks. Many government partners expressed support for the networks by mentioning that they help to provide transparency for government, hold government accountable, and allow for back & forth communication with community residents. In our last panel, Martha Guzman, from the Governor’s office, Jared Blumenfeld, of U.S. EPA Region IX, Alice Reynolds of Cal-EPA, and Ana Mascarenas of DTSC, expressed their support for continued engagement with these networks, and directed interesting perspectives for the networks as they grow over the next few years.
Central California Environmental Justice Network is proud to participate in the IVAN project, with the development of the Kern Environmental Enforcement Network and Fresno Environmental Reporting Network. Our staff has been working closely with UC Davis and many other partners over the last year to complete this report and organize this summit. We are hopeful for the future of the networks and will continue to work to solve community concerns through these platforms.