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 were used as dumping grounds for dangerous and dirty facilities like refineries and freeways – facilities 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 from 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, with at least 10 percent guaranteed to go to projects actually located in these communities. 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 that show how these dollars benefit underserved communities, see California’s Climate Investments: 10 Case Studies.
California’s climate justice and clean energy laws help clean the air and save consumers money, and now we can make them even better. Already, the state has expanded and improved its clean energy program, and in 2016 we have a chance to improve it even more — to bring cleaner air and good jobs to more neighborhoods and families that need them the most! Please read about this important effort and join the campaign.