From the beginning, California wrote its climate justice and clean energy law so that it would both reduce global warming and bring jobs and investment to our state’s most disadvantaged communities. At least one quarter of the funds raised by charging polluters must go to projects located within these neighborhoods, with an additional 10 percent going to low-income households and communities.
How does it work? California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) designed a tool—the CalEnviroScreen—to identify areas with the worst pollution and the most economic needs. Through 2015, $469 million have been targeted to benefit these communities and $356 million have been invested directly within these communities, funding programs that reduce pollution, create jobs, improve public health and help revitalize communities. This money goes to things like energy efficiency and home weatherization for low-income Californians, clean transportation, affordable housing located close to transit, urban forestry projects to plant trees that will clean the air and provide shade in polluted urban areas, and much, much more.
In fact, these funds have already started bringing real change to underserved communities. Click here for an in-depth look at 10 projects around California that show how dollars collected by charging polluters are greening neighborhoods, helping families save money on energy, and creating jobs.
Most important, California policymakers listened to us! The CalEPA and Air Resources Board (ARB) held public forums around California to hear what we thought about CalEnviroScreen and how the money can best be used to help disadvantaged communities. Those meetings led to maps and guidelines that guide where and how the money gets invested throughout the state. Those maps and guidelines are regularly reviewed and improved.
California’s growing clean energy economy is already putting Californians to work in good jobs, helping California employment to grow faster than the rest of the U.S. Today over half a million Californians work in energy efficiency, solar power and related fields, a figure that grew 18 percent last year. More Californians now work in these fields than in aerospace or movies, TV and radio combined. Nationally, solar jobs continue to grow by about 20 percent a year, and one in three of those jobs are here in California. Much more is coming, thanks to new investments funded by our clean energy law.
The process of identifying specific projects that will get these dollars is under way now. The ARB has directed state agencies to look for projects that will create quality jobs, revitalize local economies and reduce energy costs for consumers.