Brower Youth Awards

Tammy Ramos

Los Angeles, CA

Challenging oil refinery pollution in a low income community

Tammy “Ale” Ramos is a 17 year old from Los Angeles, California, who is a youth organizer with Communities for a Better Environment’s youth group “Youth for Environmental Justice” that filed a lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles over the approving of oil drilling operations in violation of state law.

Tammy lives in a harbor city in Los Angeles, home to the 3rd largest oil field in the U.S. She became a youth organizer with Communities for a Better Environment to address the volume of drilling/refinery operations, threats to her community, and impacts to her local environment. She and other youth organizers became plaintiffs that sued the city of Los Angeles in 2015 for violation of state law that regulates oil-drilling applications. The city of Los Angeles had approved drilling operations without proper environmental review. Amid settlement of the case, the California Independent Petroleum Association (CIPA) intervened in the case, suing the original youth plaintiffs from Communities for a Better Environment, which Tammy was a part of. An appellate court decided that CIPA’s claims were baseless and this case was later dismissed. In their next move, CIPA appealed to the Supreme Court of California. The highest court in California denied CIPA’s request for review and the court sided with the youth. This officially ended the case.

Since the lawsuits, the city of Los Angeles has begun implementing stronger environmental review of drilling projects. Tammy and the other youth organizers have worked alongside Communities for a Better Environment in teaching the issues in their Wilmington community. They brainstormed ideas on how to inform our community by creating pins, workshops, and going out doorknocking. The youth worked alongside the organization’s lawyers who shared the same values and worked long hours trying to defend against and protest against big oil. 

Tammy hopes that this case serves as motivation for fellow youth leaders around the country to create change in their community. Moving onward, she will keep fighting to live in a just world, using her voice as an organizer to end environmental racism.