Three decades ago, women in South Los Angeles stood up against the City of Los Angeles to block the siting of the city’s solid waste incinerator known as the Los Angeles City Energy Recovery (LANCER) project. Organized as the Concerned Citizens of South Central Los Angeles, women successfully fought back against powerful industry and business interests and complicit local decision makers, to block an additional polluting facility from being sited in a neighborhood already bearing the burden of toxic waste and abandoned factories.
While communities across the U.S. began organizing around environmental justice, powerful waste industry interests continued their expansion, while avoiding increased opposition to incineration plants and waste plants in general. The California Waste Management Board retained Los Angeles-based lobbying firm Cerrell Associates to produce a memo outlining which communities were least likely to oppose waste incinerators. The memo, titled “Political Difficulties Facing Waste-to-Energy Conversion Plant Siting.” (aka the “Cerrell Memo”) presented a demographic analysis identifying low-income communities of color,