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PSR-LA Year in Review Highlights and successes from PSR-LA’s program work in 2017

Turning Moments into Movements

A message from PSR-LA Executive Director Martha Dina Argüello

Congratulations. If you are reading this message, you survived 2017. The Trump Administration is threatening so much that we hold dear and have fought for - freedom from the threat of nuclear war, a clean healthy environment for all communities, and a world where all people are treated with dignity and respect. We thank you for being part of our community of health professionals and advocates who support our movement-building work that strives toward justice.

Every day we feel the urgency of the moment. To de-escalate nuclear rhetoric and prevent the wasting of billions of dollars to rebuild our nuclear arsenal. To stop the rollback of environmental protections that are critical to protecting our health and safety. To ensure that vulnerable communities, people of color, and women are not harmed by unjust laws and policies. We must find a way to go beyond responding to each new threat and build a new movement that can create enduring health and security for all.

PSR-LA works at the intersection of health, justice, peace and security. We know how to build and be part of effective, diverse, and intersectional coalitions that strengthen our movement. But we need your help to allow us to leverage our unique position into the victories for a world safe from nuclear threats, with air and climate justice, and reduced exposure to health-harming toxic chemicals. Having a base of regular donors can make a huge difference for an organization like ours. Donations large and small help ensure long-term support for the work we do so we can meet the challenges and opportunities ahead of us with full force. Please give today!

PSR-LA is well positioned to build a new and diverse movement for nuclear abolition in LA. We can bring health professionals together with our environmental health and justice allies to demand that Southern California Congressional members oppose plans by Trump and his allies in Congress to spend over a trillion dollars on new nuclear weapons. Yet foundation funding for work on nuclear disarmament is scarce. PSR-LA’s ability to actualize our tremendous potential to impact nuclear policy is entirely dependent upon individual donations from our members and supporters like you. Today I am asking for your generous donation to expand our nuclear threats program, increase our capacity to train more members, and amplify the health voice in related policies.

Communities throughout Southern California are suffering from exposure to toxic chemicals, from the nuclear and chemical contamination at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory to the legacy of industrial pollution that plagues much of South LA. Through our work in coalitions and new partnerships with academic institutions, PSR-LA has the opportunity to completely re-envision how we reduce exposure to toxic chemicals. With your help, we can grow our efforts to unite the credible voices of health professionals with the lived experiences of frontline communities and win upstream policy solutions.With your help, we can grow our efforts to unite the credible voices of health professionals with the lived experiences of frontline communities and win upstream policy solutions.

PSR-LA is also leading efforts in LA for a comprehensive strategy on climate change that puts health and environmental justice at the center. Through working to stop neighborhood oil drilling locally and pushing for real climate leadership in Sacramento, we want to create a future that holds children’s lungs more precious that oil industry profit. We are working with the environmental justice leaders and author Naomi Klein to create the bold path for a major leap into an equitable, vibrant and carbon-free future here in Los Angeles. Your financial support is critical to helping us bring more health professionals and impacted communities to this exciting initiative and make LA carbon-neutral by 2025.

One bright light in a difficult year was the adoption of the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. For its role in advancing the treaty, the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the International Coalition to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), a project of PSR’s international affiliate, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (winner of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize.) In her acceptance remarks, ICAN Executive Director Beatrice Fihn said

“The story of nuclear weapons will have an ending, and it is up to us what that ending will be. Will it be the end of nuclear weapons, or will it be the end of us? One of these things will happen. The only rational course of action is to cease living under the conditions where our mutual destruction is only one impulsive tantrum away.”

We cannot let our fate be determined by impulse, by greed, by hatred or by the destruction of democracy and the institutions meant to protect it. We must resist with all our might, whether the issue of the moment is nuclear weapons, climate change, or the host of injustices that assault women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, and religious groups. We must instead join together in a movement that promotes a vigorous democracy and stands up for health, justice, and protecting future generations.

PSR-LA is growing and your financial support is critical to our ability to be flexible and respond quickly to important public health threats while providing the connective tissue needed to weave moments into movements and lasting progressive change.

Thank you for standing with us, in good times and stepping up in bad, as we must be relentless in our struggle for a safer, healthier world.

Sincerely,

Martha Dina Argüello

Executive Director

PSR-LA’s Martha Dina Argüello rallies the crowd at March for Science in Los Angeles on April 22, 2017.

PSR-LA Board President Dr. Bob Dodge participated in U.N. negotiations on a treaty to ban nuclear weapons in June 2017, as well as the Women’s March to Ban the Bomb held in New York City during the negotiations.

The PSR-LA team thanks you for your support this year. Together we can create a safer, healthier world.

2017 was a momentous year for PSR-LA’s nuclear threats program. The dangerous saber-rattling of the Trump Administration re-awakened the public to the catastrophic threat of nuclear war, a clear and present danger that can only be eradicated by the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. PSR played a central role in moving forward the landmark U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons that was adopted in July and for which our partner, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, won the Nobel Peace Prize. PSR-LA advocated for legislation to prohibit the President from having sole authority to launch the first nuclear strike, and worked to engage new and diverse communities in nuclear abolition, included hosting a Youth Disarmament Conference in South LA that drew over 120 participants.

PSR-LA also works to protect public health from exposure to radioactive waste and contamination. The past year was critical in our decades-long struggle to ensure the full cleanup of nuclear and chemical contamination at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL). We helped mobilize thousands of community members to demand that environmental reviews from the US Dept. of Energy and the CA Dept. of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) did not break previous commitments to full cleanup, and worked to elevate the voices of parents who’ve discovered a troubling pattern of rare pediatric cancers near SSFL. In addition, the closure of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station has put California on the front lines of the national debate over nuclear waste storage, and PSR-LA worked with our allies to promote health-protective policy solutions.

Over the coming year, PSR-LA will build upon our efforts to create a diverse, intersectional movement in LA to protect communities near and far from health impacts related to nuclear weapons, nuclear waste, and radioactive contamination

PSR-LA Associate Director Denise Duffield presented Rep. Ted Lieu with an award from the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability on May 23 for introducing the Restricting the First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act.

PSR-LA co-hosted a Youth Disarmament Conference with Dr. Olga Mohan High School in South Los Angeles on Nov. 4, 2017. Speakers included representatives from PSR-LA, the Arms Control Association, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, and the William J. Perry Project. Shikego Sasmori spoke of her experiences during the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, and a youth panel composed of high school and college students discussed the role of youth in creating a nuclear weapons-free world.

Dr. Jimmy Hara discusses concerns about pediatric cancers near the Santa Susana Field Lab on Nov. 30 as local parents demand that the DTSC uphold its cleanup commitments.

PSR-LA’s Air and Climate Justice Program works to protect vulnerable communities by reducing air emissions that harm human health and speed global climate change. This includes advocating for direct emission reductions at both regional and state levels, working to end oil drilling in Los Angeles, and ensuring that we transition to an economy that is fueled by clean, renewable energy and provides economic benefits to all communities without harming health.

In 2017, a delegation of physicians, nurses and public health experts hand-delivered a health professional letter with over 300 signatures to LA City Council urging the City to take seriously the health impacts associated with drilling for oil in close proximity to people. We continue to advocate for the passage of a 2,500 foot human health and safety buffer, and also got unanimous support for our policy solution from the Los Angeles Health Commission! In the climate justice realm, PSR-LA worked with partners across the state to pass AB 523 (Reyes) to bring critical clean energy research dollars to disadvantaged communities. We have just learned from the California Public Utilities Commission that this will bring $60,283,222.30 for clean energy projects located in and benefiting low-income and disadvantaged communities. Finally, PSR-LA coordinated with Los Angeles organizations to shape recommendations to guide the state’s Transformative Climate Communities Program to ensure that the program results in community-level investments that do not promote displacement.

In the new year, we remain committed to our local work to enact oil health and safety buffer zones in the City of Los Angeles. We will also ensure that local issues are truly addressed in state policies that are aimed at improving air quality. In 2018 we also want to think big in our demands to act on climate change by working to develop and implement a carbon free LA that is rooted is social justice and ensures healthy, vibrant communities. Our air, climate and future generations depend on taking bold action.

On Nov. 28, physicians, nurses and public health experts submitted a letter with over 300 health professional signatures to the LA City Council, calling for oil operations to be phased out within a 2,500 feet of homes, schools, hospitals, and other sensitive land uses.

PSR-LA Executive director Martha Dina Argüello gives a rallying speech on October 4 in front of the offices of the LA Catholic Archdiocese calling on the Archdiocese to terminate its land lease with the oil operator AllenCo Energy.

PSR-LA’s Land Use and Health program has had an exciting and busy year! We made significant strides both in our policy advocacy projects and place-based work, all aimed at addressing long-standing environmental injustices in Los Angeles and restoring our built environment from the Soil to the Soul.

We successfully increased awareness of and engagement with the intersecting issues of industrial land use and contamination, toxic exposures and health. These intersecting issues were primarily addressed through our seminal project – the 500 Feet Initiative – which aims to address the existence of hazardous land uses residing in close proximity to sensitive uses in the South and Southeast Community Plans. In 2017, PSR-LA launched an online interactive hazard-mapping tool, allowing interested stakeholders to see what industrial uses existed in close proximity to their homes, schools and places of work and worship. We hit the streets of South Central LA with community residents and our base-building organization partners to ground-truth five census tracts. Finally, we assembled a policy-working group comprised of community partners, health professionals and academic experts to identify viable policy interventions. Next year, we will release a report that outlines the work to date and our community-vetted policy recommendations. We hope to build support for the initiative by engaging political stakeholders, city allies and the broader South Central advocacy community.

Our interactive land-use tools explore creative ways to engage with land uses in one's community.

Our place-based work in Watts and Jordan Downs also saw many accomplishments achieved through deep and meaningful community engagement, data collection and agency collaboration. On June 3rd, PSR-LA and our allies hosted a community health summit to release the preliminary findings of a 9-month long health needs assessment geared at gauging the Jordan Downs’ community’s self-assessment of conditions impacting their health. The event was attended by over 100 residents and stakeholders, and catalyzed important conversations about racial injustice, drinking water quality and community transformation. PSR-LA is looking forward to deepening our commitment to the Jordan Downs and Watts community in 2018 and beyond.

Jordan Downs community leaders are awarded certificates of appreciation at the June 3 Health Summit from Assembly Member Mike Gipson for their environmental justice work.

Community members with Esperanza Community Housing Corporation play a land use game as part of their training in the 500 Feet Ground Truthing workshop.

Jordan Downs resident leaders analyze and discuss the preliminary data from the Jordan Downs Health Needs Assessment.

2017 was a year of self-reflection and new partnerships for PSR-LA’s Toxics Program. As an organization and leader in the toxics movement, we re-committed ourselves to the goals of reducing the use of and exposure to toxic chemicals by advocating for precautionary grounded systems and policies and continuing to build authentic community engagement. We also added promoting just transition strategies for industry.

PSR-LA Executive director Martha Dina Argüello speaks at Antioch University's

We were particularly excited to establish a new partnership with Antioch University’s Urban Sustainability Masters Program to further explore what a Just Transition for the metals industry in the LA region could look like. In the fall, we spent a week with graduate students and Antioch faculty visiting communities impacted by the metals industry such as Paramount, touring metals facilities in South LA, and diving deep into questions of life cycle analysis, technology innovation and policy interventions. In the future, we will identify the particular strategies in technology, policy and community engagement that are needed to transition the metals industry to something more just, healthy and sustainable.

PSR-LA also expanded our focus on assessing contamination to include drinking water quality. This work grew out of our place-based work in South LA, where a vast majority of residents experience dirty water from tap sources. In addition to assessing conditions locally, PSR-LA joined a coalition of over 80 organizations statewide to support Senate Bill 623 the Clean and Affordable Drinking Water bill authored by Senator Monning. The bill would provide over $100 million of funding each year to address the short-term and long-term needs of communities impacted by poor drinking water quality and impaired drinking water systems. Although it was turned into a 2-year bill, PSR-LA and our allies are energized and committed to continuing the fight for SB 623 in 2018.

PSR-LA physicians and staff participate in the California Environmental Justice Alliance’s Congreso “Reimagining Resistance” in Sacramento on August 29 to advocate for environmental justice policies and practices in California.

PSR-LA organized two water quality workshops in Watts aimed at educating the community about the quality of their water and engaging residents in solutions oriented dialogue with political and regulatory stakeholders.

Thank you for your support this past year. We will continue to fight for equity and justice by building movements at the intersection of health, justice, peace, and security.

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