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Workers’ Rights Caravan Rolls Out

Date: November 14, 2022

Author: Julio Morales -

EL CENTRO – Farmworkers who gathered in downtown Calexico in the early morning of Monday, Nov. 14 were greeted with something of an unusual sight.

There to meet them was a broad coalition of stakeholders who this week launched a local initiative to educate and inform vulnerable workers of their rights.

It did not take too long for community advocate Ana Solorio to recognize the importance of the local outreach effort. One worker she encountered told her they had been told that the state’s pandemic-related supplemental paid sick leave program had expired on Sept. 31.

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Community & Environmental Groups Issue Landmark Legal Challenge to Imperial Valley Lithium Project

Date: March 14, 2024


Community & Environmental Groups Issue Landmark Legal Challenge to Imperial Valley Lithium Project

Comité Civico del Valle and Earthworks challenge approval to ensure responsible lithium extraction at California's Salton Sea

March 14, 2024

Media Contact:
Jose Carmona, (415) 265-7851,
Katia Lopez , (760) 668-4565,
Brendan McLaughlin, (206) 892-8832,

BRAWLEY, CA: Yesterday, March 13, Comité Civico del Valle and Earthworks issued a joint petition challenging the approval of the Controlled Thermal Resources Hell’s Kitchen Lithium Project adjacent to the Salton Sea in California’s Imperial Valley. The petition argues that Imperial County (County) has violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by approving the project despite a deeply flawed Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that fails to adequately analyze and mitigate impacts related to air quality, hazardous waste, and water supply (to name a few). The petition also argues that the County failed to comply with legal requirements for tribal consultation, such as meaningful consultation with affected tribes or requiring tribal-specific mitigation measures.

“Controlled Thermal Resources boasts about the sustainability attributes of direct lithium extraction, yet public health, hazardous waste, and water concerns remain unresolved,” said Executive Director of Comite Civico del Valle, Luis Olmedo. “We have diligently raised our concerns about this project throughout the planning process, advocating for reasonable mitigation measures that will ensure Lithium Valley is developed responsibly while protecting the environment and the public health of our communities. Yet, Controlled Thermal Resources and the County have charged ahead, leaving us no choice but to pursue legal recourse. We are hopeful that the parties will come back to the table to negotiate in good faith to implement meaningful mitigation measures, including meaningful changes to the project’s construction and operation, that should have been taken during the CEQA review process.”

Last year, CCV and Earthworks published a report on the potential environmental justice impacts of Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE). The report found that although DLE technologies may prove to have lower impact than conventional mining using open pits or evaporation ponds, many uncertainties remain, since the technology has never before been used at commercial scale. The report recommends a precautionary approach, especially as it relates to freshwater consumption from the overburdened Colorado River, and exacerbating air quality impacts from the drying Salton Sea.

“Lithium is important for the transition away from fossil fuels, but extracting it has serious negative environmental and social impacts that need to be addressed,” said Jared Naimark, California Mining Organizer with Earthworks. “California has an opportunity to lead the way on a just transition with more responsible practices. This starts with ensuring lithium projects such as Hell’s Kitchen comply with our fundamental environmental laws to disclose, analyze, and mitigate impacts.”

The Hell’s Kitchen Project was approved by Imperial County on January 23, 2024, and CTR held a groundbreaking ceremony on January 26. The legal challenge will trigger a review to determine whether the EIR complies with CEQA or requires revision. All options remain on the table to ensure that community concerns are adequately analyzed and mitigated, particularly potential impacts related to air quality, hazardous waste, and water supply. The petition also argues that the County failed to comply with legal requirements for tribal consultation.

About CCV:

Comite Civico del Valle is a 501 (c)(3) organization with an extensive background and accomplishments that date back to our grassroots origins in 1987. Our organization was founded in Imperial County, California with the endeavor of improving the lives of disadvantaged communities; informing, educating, and engaging the community´s civic participation. Comite Civico del Valle (CCV) was founded on the principle that “Informed People Build Healthy Communities” and continues to incorporate this in all partnerships, research, and civic engagement.

About Earthworks:

Since 1988, Earthworks has helped communities secure protections of their health, land, water, and air from extractive industries. Earthworks is the only national organization in the U.S. to focus exclusively on preventing the destructive impacts of the extraction of oil, gas, and minerals.


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Farmworker health, safety and rights are focus of conference

Date: April 11, 2023

Author: Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety (WCAHS)

(SACRAMENTO) Agriculture is one of the most dangerous industries in the U.S.


Farmworkers are an essential part of California’s agriculture. Yet, they are vulnerable due to language barriers, health and safety issues from the labor-intensive work, immigration status and economic obstacles.


To address these issues, the UC Davis Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety (WCAHS) and Comite Civico del Valle (CCV) held a first-of-its-kind conference specifically designed for farmworkers in California.


Approximately 200 farmworkers attended the event, Conferencia Campesina de Salud y Bienestar, held on March 24 in the Imperial Valley in Calexico, Calif.

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Date: January 17, 2023

Author: Richard Montenegro Brown

Comite Civico Del Valle Awarded $4 Million for Lithium-related Community Work


Waverley Street Foundation Funds Grassroots Initiatives Among Imperial County’s Underrepresented and Underserved Communities for Next Two Years


IMPERIAL COUNTY — Comite Civico del Valle, Inc., has been awarded a two-year $4 million grant from the Waverley Street Foundation to fund research and increase public education, capacity building, and civic engagement around the lithium-extraction industry among Imperial County’s underrepresented and underserved communities.

Waverley Street Foundation is a $3 billion-plus nonprofit based in Palo Alto, California, combating climate change through the funding of grassroots initiatives, organizing, and capacity building in disadvantaged communities.


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Thankful for a Lithium Valley Holiday

Date: November 22, 2022

Author: Luis Olmedo

We at Comite Civico del Valle have a lot to be thankful for heading into the holidays. It’s been a phenomenal year for those of us who work closely in the world of environmental and social justice, and often when we wind down to gather with those close to us, we consider what’s important.

From our vantage point, we recently saw two of the biggest milestones of the year in local environmental justice come to pass — seeing the County of Imperial release its request for proposals for the Salton Sea Renewable Resource Health Impact Assessment tied to lithium extraction projects around the Salton Sea and the Blue Ribbon Commission moving forward its report for Lithium Extraction in California toward the Legislature before the end of the year.

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Caravan Arrives in Imperial County to Inform Workers About Their Rights

Date: November 17, 2022


A caravan of state agencies from around the State of California and local organizations woke up very early in the morning to approach farmworkers and let them know about their worker rights and how they are protected under the law despite their immigration status.

A press conference was held on Nov. 14 in El Centro with community organizations and state agencies to announce the labor rights caravan and week of action in Imperial County.  The caravan is part of the COVID-19 Workplace Outreach Project (CWOP), a statewide initiative to bring together community organizations and state agencies to promote workplace protections against COVID-19. COVID-19 and vaccination.

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Local and state partners celebrate labor rights caravan kick-off in Imperial County

Date: November 15, 2022

Author: Elizabeth Mayoral Corpus -

EL CENTRO — Local and state partners announced on Nov. 14 a Labor Rights Caravan and Week of Action in Imperial County and surrounding areas.

A press conference was held by the State of California Department of Industrial Relations, Cal/OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and a variety of other organizations came together to inform local the farmworker community in Imperial County about the extension of supplemental paid sick Leave, new COVID-19 boosters, and health and safety in the workplace.

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Annual Environmental Summit Draws Large Crowd

Date: November 02, 2022

Author: Mike Solorio

IMPERIAL – Health, jobs, and environmental government policies linked to the developing lithium extraction industry in Imperial County were chewed over during a panel discussion at the 11th annual Environmental Health Leadership Summit held last week at Imperial Valley College.

The panel discussion, titled “Lithium Valley: The State of Lithium Policy Initiatives,” highlighted the advantages and disadvantages of the lithium extraction industry.

Lithium Valley Commissioner Jonathan Weisgall, who is also BHE Renewables vice president of legislative and regulatory affairs, was one of the panel speakers.

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Date: October 28, 2022

Author: Richard Montenegro Brown


Panels and Workshops on Lithium Valley, Salton Sea, and More Bring Together Local and State Leaders, Environmental Justice Advocates Academics and Others for Important Conversations, All Organized by Comite Civico Del Valle, Inc.

IMPERIAL — From the welcoming speeches, and the lunch keynote address, to the content of several of the day’s panels and workshops, Lithium Valley and its potential effects on the region figured prominently in the 2022 Environmental Health Leadership Summit at Imperial Valley College on Thursday, Oct. 27.

As many as 300 people attended — and another 50-plus watched via livestream — the 11th annual event put on by Comite Civico del Valle, Inc., the Brawley-based environmental justice organization, which brought back its annual summit of local, state, and tribal leaders, academia, environmental justice advocates, organizers, labor unions, and more for the first time in nearly three years.

The summit, held in IVC’s health sciences building, was opened and closed with remarks from Comite Civico’s executive director, Luis Olmedo.

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Let’s seize lithium opportunities and bring jobs and economic benefits to Imperial Valley

Date: August 04, 2022

Author: Luis OlmedoSpecial to The Desert Sun

California has an opportunity to turn an environmental disaster into a catalyst for environmental justice, green jobs and economic development. Imperial Valley has one of the world’s largest deposits of lithium — a key component in batteries for zero-emission cars, trucks and buses as well as cell phones and laptops. We can become a global lithium producer and exporter and support Imperial Valley residents by creating new green jobs as well as clean economic development for the region.  

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As Covid-19 Surges, California Farmworkers Are Paying a High Price

Date: July 29, 2022

Author: Evelyn Nieves -

Every day, California farmworkers worry that the pandemic plowing through agricultural hubs will catch them and kill them. They also worry that not working will kill them.

The collapse of food service demands when most businesses and institutions shut down has cut farm jobs statewide by 20 percent, or 100,000. Many farmworkers who are still working have had their hours or days reduced, sometimes without warning. Lockdowns have also cost workers second jobs they needed to make ends meet. They are juggling bills and going hungry.

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Tight-Knit Communities Help Combat Covid – Whether It’s Imperial County (CA), Or India

Date: July 22, 2022

Author: Avyay Sriperumbudur -

Throughout the pandemic, Imperial County has led California in COVID vaccination rates – 91.7% of  its residents have had two doses of the vaccine, giving Imperial the highest vaccination rate among Californian counties.

Experts at a July 15 EMS briefing attributed the high vaccination rates to the efforts of Imperial County’s community-based organizations (CBOs) and tight knit communities.

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Calexico celebrates $28M in New River funding

Date: July 11, 2022

Author: Kassandra Mendoza -

CALEXICO —  After a decade of immense effort, the New River Project received $28 million in funding to begin the first phase of restoration said to bring public health safety and environmental justice to Calexico, Mexicali, and Baja California, at a press conference at the Women's Improvement Club in Calexico July 7.  

Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia and Senator Ben Hueso, along with California Secretary for Environmental Protection Jared Blumenfeld and his team, were welcomed to The City of Calexico by the Mayor of Calexico, Javier Moreno. 

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California’s energy future hinges on lithium, from solar panels to batteries. Here’s what we know.

Date: March 14, 2022

Author: Manola Secaira/CapRadio -

In the form of a lithium-ion battery, this mineral powers everything from solar panels to electric cars. So far, lithium used in the United States is imported from other countries that commercially extract it. But with interest in the mineral growing rapidly, that will soon change.

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Governor Newsom Joins President Biden to Uplift California’s Vision for an Inclusive, Sustainable, Clean Energy Economy in Lithium Valley

Date: February 22, 2022


SACRAMENTO – Today, Governor Gavin Newsom joined President Biden and community, labor, and industry leaders to discuss new investments and actions to support California’s clean energy sector – outlining historic progress to sustainably develop lithium resources, a critical component of the advanced batteries needed for zero-emission vehicles, clean electric grids, and other renewable energy technologies. California’s Imperial Valley contains some of the largest lithium deposits in the world, specifically underground near the Salton Sea – a region also known as Lithium Valley.

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Special Report: U.S. air monitors routinely miss pollution - even refinery explosions

Date: December 01, 2020

Author: Tim McLaughlin, Laila Kearney, Laura Sanicola -

When explosions ripped through a Philadelphia oil refinery last year, the shock waves knocked Felicia Menna’s front door frame out of place. Then came the black smoke.

“My throat was closing shut,” recalled Menna, who lives about a mile away. “My nostrils felt like they were on fire.”

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Increased Risks and Fewer Jobs: Evidence of California Farmworker Vulnerability During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Date: July 23, 2020

Author: Ildi Carlisle-Cummins

Santa Cruz — Today, the COVID-19 Farmworker Study Team announces the completion of statewide survey of more than 900 farmworkers in California, which provides unique insights into the experience of these essential workers during the pandemic. Preliminary results from this unique study--the only statewide survey that gathered data directly from farmworkers currently working--will be released at a virtual press conference on July 28th, 2020 at 10 am PST. The results provide critical missing information on work site conditions and farmworkers' abilities to protect themselves while continuing to work in California’s fields.

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Work moving in the right direction at SALTON SEA

Date: October 21, 2019


SALTON SEA (OCT 21, 2019) – State officials met recently at North Shores to give the community a report on the Salton Sea management plan. Assembly Member Eduardo Garcia called it a comprehensive update.

“They gave us dates of the beginning of construction. They gave us an accounting of funds that have been allocated to the project. They also touched on the other projects that are not part of the plan but that are being considered for purposes of community driven opportunities to mitigate the dust problems that are out here,” Garcia said.

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About $300 million earmarked so far for Salton Sea work

Date: October 11, 2019

Author: Michael Maresh -

SALTON SEA — As a followup to a June 26 meeting in Sacramento, Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella; Rep. Paul Ruiz, D-Palm Desert, and California Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot met Oct. 3 in Palm Desert with local leaders and the public to discuss funding sources and improvements coming to the Salton Sea.

Garcia, who said work will begin on the southern part of the Salton Sea in December, said another $150 million needs to be appropriated to the sea to complete all of the projects in the 10-year plan.

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Asthma medication law benefits local students

Date: September 27, 2019

Author: Julio Morales -

CALEXICO – The recent passage of a state law allowing asthma medication, such as inhalers, obtained in Mexico to be used by students attending local schools was hailed Thursday by officials.

Already, it has benefited some students within the Calexico Unified School District, said Superintendent Carlos Gonzales.

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An Agent of Positive Change

Date: September 26, 2019

Author: John Hernandez, President, Our Roots Multicultural Center

Many people see Comite Civico del Valle as an agent of positive change, impacting not just locally but nationwide. And their annual environmental summits are excellent opportunities for the community to be part of that change.

John Hernandez, President of Our Roots Multicultural Center Director, said “I’ve been involved and interested in the work of Comite Civico, especially involved around environmental justice and the protection of our environment, for about the last ten years.”

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A Summit of Engagement

Date: September 19, 2019

Author: Dean Gregorio Ponce, San Diego State University, Imperial Valley Campus

Knowledge and passion combined are key elements in dealing effectively and decisively with issues that affect a community in order to bring about real change, according to San Diego State University – Imperial Valley Campus Dean Gregorio Ponce.

Dean Ponse said these elements were present in the Environmental Health Leadership Summits he has attended in Imperial County, where community and state officials have come together in a forum that is conducive to the sharing of concerns in our community.

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