It's a rare thing during these challenging times for California's and the nation's environment: pausing for one night to celebrate our victories and the leaders that make them possible.
On December 1, CLCV celebrated four of California’s leading environmental champions at its 18th annual Environmental Leadership Awards gala in West Hollywood. CLCV honored Attorney General Kamala Harris, Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster, actress and activist Daphne Zuniga, and The Better World Group President Wendy James for their work to advance clean energy and protect the environment and the public’s health.
CLCV CEO Warner Chabot kicked off the event with these words:
“Tonight we honor four California environmental leaders who are making our state and our planet a better place for our children and grandchildren—and all of you who support CLCV’s work to elect the next generation of California’s environmental champions."
California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who recently sued bottled water companies for false claims of biodegradability in what may be the nation’s first “greenwashing” lawsuit, described her motivation to protect the environment by recounting her visit to a low-income community with some of the worst air quality in California:
“I care about the environment not because I want to hug a tree. I care about the environment because I want to hug a healthy baby.
I am so honored to receive this award tonight from the California League of Conservation Voters. As Attorney General, and a daughter of California, I believe a clean environment is a birthright of every Californian. I am committed to protecting our natural resources, and enforcing our environmental protection laws, to ensure clean and healthy communities for all Californians."
Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster, who was honored for a career that has included leading Southern California Edison in implementing the largest renewable energy portfolio in the United States and spearheading the clean-up of the Port of Long Beach, accepted his award saying:
“CLCV is an outstanding organization that gives dignity to the human condition; it protects this planet and tries to make it better for our children and future generations. Their work is of great importance and I can’t think of an award I would be prouder to receive.”
Actress and environmental activist Daphne Zuniga referred to CLCV’s annual Environmental Scorecard (which rates California lawmakers on their environmental performance) in her acceptance speech, asking those in attendance to think about their own “score” on protecting the environment:
“If we are really going to save this planet and the species on it, accountability is the most important thing. Thank you CLCV for reminding me that I am accountable, as we all are.”
As she accepted her award for more than 30 years of service to California’s environment, The Better World Group founder and President Wendy James said:
“You’re so fortunate when your work and your passion coincide, and I get to work with a lot of amazing groups and individuals. When you work on environmental policy issues you learn quickly that progress can be painful if you don’t have the right policymakers; that’s why groups like CLCV are so critical. They make sure the right people get elected, and once they’re elected they hold them accountable.”
“As we honor these four outstanding champions for California’s environment, we ask you to join them and all of us in the fight for California’s future,” said CLCV Board Chair Rick Zbur. "Together, we’ll ensure that California continues to be the national leader in environmental protection and conservation and clean energy success.”
More information about the event, including biographies of all of the honorees, can be found online at www.ecovote.org/gala/