Environmental Groups Rally and March in S.F. to Demand Action from EPA

Dozens of environmental groups from California and Arizona rallied in front of the Environmental Protection Agency’s San Francisco office a day before the city's Earth Day celebration and March for Science.

The groups' leaders met with Alexis Strauss, the EPA’s regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest, to express their concerns about climate change and its impact on low-income communities and communities of color.

They're also demanding that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt step down.

Bradley Angel, the executive director of Greenaction, a health and environmental justice group, helped organize the march.

“The purpose is for the people most affected to say, ‘We're already dumped on and sick, and our people are dying. We need more protections, not less.’ This is resistance against Trump and his policies,” he said.

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Indigenous rights groups also participated in the protest, including the Colorado River Indian Tribes, a coalition that represents the Mohave, Chemehuevi, Hopi and Navajo people.

David Harper, the coalition's spokesman, spoke at the rally. He said that the people he represents are dealing with the effects of climate change in their communities and are fearful of it getting worse under Trump.

“We have an expectation that the U.S. EPA continues to monitor, regulate and enforce and protect the Colorado River. We’re here today to protect our river and our natural resources,” Harper said. “We can no longer be that type of Indian that sits back and waits. We have to stand up and have our voices heard.”

Many of the organizations at the event were promoting causes beyond environmental justice.

Laura Gracia, the youth organizer for Communities for a Better Environment, said acknowledging intersectionality -- the overlapping of minority statuses -- is vital in fighting climate change.

“All my young people, all my women of color, all my queer people and gender-nonconforming people, all my indigenous people, all of us, we are here. We are at the front lines, and we will continue to be at the front lines. We are not victims, we are warriors, and we will keep fighting,” Gracia said to rally the crowd.

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After the demonstration, the protesters marched -- accompanied by police escorts -- through streets downtown and South of Market, briefly shutting down traffic. Many of the demonstrators said they would also join the March for Science on Saturday.

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