In 2006, California took a bold step toward cleaning our air and building a new, clean energy economy by passing the Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32). This groundbreaking law committed California to reducing the carbon pollution that damages our climate, moving away from dirty fuels like oil and coal, and expanding safer, cleaner energy sources like solar and wind. We’re doing it by charging polluters for the pollution they cause and putting that money to work in our communities – to save energy, expand clean power, boost access to clean transportation and help Californians pay their energy bills, while creating jobs in our communities.
This affects us all, but the old, dirty energy economy hurt some neighborhoods more than others. Too often, low-income communities are used as dumping grounds for dangerous, dirty facilities like refineries and freeways that wealthier areas don’t want. Five of California’s smoggiest cities have the most people of color and low-income residents, and these communities will suffer the worst increase in smog associated with climate change.
In 2012, California passed a second law, SB 535, to guarantee that one quarter of polluter fees charged under AB 32 would benefit these neighborhoods. In 2016, California went even farther with AB 1550: We guaranteed that 35 percent of polluter fees will help underserved communities and low-income Californians, and we improved our climate laws in several other ways. The neighborhoods that most urgently need clean air and good jobs are getting both!
To see exactly where those dollars are going, visit Climate Benefits for California. For an in-depth look at 10 projects benefiting underserved communities, see California’s Climate Investments: 10 Case Studies. For more details on all these laws, see California’s Climate Laws: A Quick Guide. And check out our Neighborhood Stories page to meet some of the real Californians who lives are better because of our climate justice and clean energy laws.
These laws help clean the air and save consumers money. Big Oil keeps attacking this effort, but we will keep working to improve our laws and protect our air, our jobs and our neighborhoods.