Press Releases

Welcome to Chokeland: East Oakland Community Gathers to Create Path Forward

Community Town Hall Demands Policies for Clean Air

OAKLAND, CA – A coalition of environmental advocacy groups – Environmental Democracy Project (EDP) and the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) – and an artists’ collective, the Oakland Cannery Collective (Collective) will host City of Oakland Council Members and the City of Oakland Cannabis Regulatory Commission Members on October 5, 2022 to demand stronger environmental protections. This comes after cannabis cultivation growers at Green Sage polluted an East Oakland neighborhood with toxic diesel exhaust for two years before finally being shuttered in September. The coalition that succeeded in shutting down the diesel generators are calling for accountability and stronger protections, and seeking removal of remaining illegal generators in other parts of the city.

The City of Oakland’s existing policies and regulations failed to have the proper mechanisms in place to urgently address this environmental injustice from the onset. Coalition members say the City must address the loopholes to enable a growing cannabis industry to operate in a manner that protects residents and the air they breathe.

“East Oakland has been redlined and overburdened with pollution for decades.  While this community needs and wants new businesses to come and thrive here, to allow the establishment of highly polluting businesses at the expense of community health and affordable housing is unacceptable,” said Tanya Boyce, Executive Director of EDP.

“My father and I have dedicated our lives to enrich and beautify our city. It’s horrifying to witness how the cannabis industry displaces residents that have lived here for decades. We are not mules for economic gain but a vibrant group of artists who have paved the path to enrich our community. We have the right to clean air, and to a safe space to live and work. It is the City’s duty to protect those rights. The City of Oakland needs to exhaust all efforts and keep this building a vibrant, artistic and culturally diverse live-work environment,” said Alistair Monroe, a board member of EDP and President of the Collective.

Green Sage’s nine trailer-sized generators ran continuously, emitting an estimated 13,000 pounds of diesel engine exhaust each year. Diesel exhaust contains over forty toxic substances listed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and accounts for roughly 70% of the cancer risk from exposure to air toxics in the State of California. Additionally, these diesel generators–as well as the fuel used to transport the diesel to the facility daily–release dangerous greenhouse gases. 

Pollution and greenhouse gas emissions are a top concern in East Oakland, where more than half of the 80,000 residents are people of color and disproportionately impacted by multiple sources of pollution. Historical practices, such as redlining, have contributed to this disparity; that is environmental racism. Environmental justice means listening and staying accountable to those communities that have been the most impacted.

Who: Speakers from: the Environmental Democracy Project (Tanya Boyce), Oakland Cannery Collective (Alistair Monroe), Center for Environmental Health (Kaya Allan Sugerman), City of Oakland Council Members (Council Member Treva Reid), City of Oakland Cannabis Regulatory Commission Member (Chaney Turner)

Special invitees: Council Member Loren Taylor, Council Member Noel Gallo, City Council President Pro Tem Sheng Thao, Oakland Unified School District Director Joel Velasquez, and Keta Price from Communities for a Better Environment

What: Community Town Hall Demanding Policies for Clean Air in East Oakland

Date: Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Time: 1:00 – 3:00 PM

Location: The Oakland Cannery (5733 San Leandro St, Oakland, CA 94621)