In order to improve the health and environment of all Californians, Assemblymember Alex Lee has introduced AB 652 to require the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) to convene an Environmental Justice Advisory Committee (EJAC) by July 1, 2025. Consisting of community members most impacted by pesticides including Native American tribes and socioeconomically disadvantaged farmers, the EJAC will make recommendations to reduce the racial and socioeconomic disparities of the impacts of pesticide exposure and facilitate greater transparency and accountability of DPR’s programs.
According to research by the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA), pesticides are one of the two environmental pollutants that have the greatest racial and ethnic disparity in California. Exposure to pesticides is linked to acute toxicity and chronic diseases, including cancer, respiratory disease, and developmental disorders in children.
“It’s critical that those most impacted by pesticide use have representation and are able to provide input on how to improve the health and well-being of our community members,” said Assemblymember Alex Lee. “With California accounting for more than 20% of the total national pesticide use, this is long overdue, and an EJAC will play an important role in making conditions safer.”
The EJAC will be comprised of at least 15 members with representation by environmental justice leaders, advocates of socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers, Native American or tribal groups, farmworker advocates, and representatives from communities in the state with the most significant exposure to pesticides, including community members living in both urban and rural regions with high-pesticide use.
"The impact of pesticide exposure is overwhelmingly borne by farmworker communities of color, who pay the price with their health, potential and lives,” said Angel Garcia, co-director of the statewide coalition Californians for Pesticide Reform. “The voices of these communities must be heard and heeded, and we welcome Assemblymember Lee's bill as a critical first step toward increasing accountability and transparency for those most impacted by pesticide use in California."
“Those most impacted by the health effects of pesticide exposure must play a central role in pesticide-related policy decisions that have important implications for their well-being,” said Asha Sharma, Organizing Co-Director at Pesticide Action Network. “We thank Assemblymember Alex Lee for championing community voices and ensuring they have a seat at the table.”
The bill requires the EJAC to formally review the activities and programs under DPR, and to provide recommendations for improving community protections, compliance with current regulations, and enforcement of timelines and budgets.
Under the bill, DPR will appoint the EJAC members from nominations received from environmental justice organizations and community groups. In order to support equitable participation, EJAC members will receive a per diem allowance and may be reimbursed for actual and necessary travel expenses incurred in connection with their official duties.