FRESNO – Residents in disadvantaged communities in the Central Valley could get help swapping polluting cars for cleaner ones under climate change legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last week atop a downtown parking garage.
One of the bills will direct $900 million in cap-and-trade funds to greenhouse gas-reducing programs, support clean transportation and protect natural ecosystems. Other bills would benefit communities disproportionally impacted by air pollutions by prioritizing spending in those communities.
“I want to make clear, that cleaning up the air is not something that is forgetting about poor people,” Brown said. “Because in this area, particularly, the air is bad and a lot of kids have asthma, a lot of old people have bronchitis and other kind of respiratory deceases.”
“This is a bill that aims to fix up the air, make things better, more livable for everybody. And that is good because we are what we breathe and what we eat,” Brown said.
Assemblymember Joaquín Arámbula, D-Fresno, helped ensure the measures will help area communities.
“You know, the ultimate goal of cap-and-trade is to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, not to generate revenue,” said Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendón. “However, wisely investing the funds that do come from cap-and-trade can provide avenues that would help us meet California’s ambitious emission reduction goals.”
“TRANSFORMATIVE CLIMATE COMMUNITIES WOULD SHOW THE CUMULATIVE BENEFIT THAT CAN OCCUR WHEN WE WORK TO PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT AND IMPROVE PUBLIC HEALTH AT THE SAME TIME.” Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendón.
Rendón said the bills signed by Brown “embody the aggressive and responsible approach we are taking in spending cap-and-trade funds.”
He added that the state assembly wanted to “ensure that Californians in underserved communities such as these, which are most impacted by air quality problems, receive the greatest benefits.”
“The Assembly also wanted to ensure that rural communities, including those in the Central Valley, would benefit from cap-and-trade investments along with urban areas,” Rendón said.
Some of the investments include funding for projects like transformative climate communities, where a community would receive deep investment over multiple projects including transit, weatherization and green space expansion.
“Transformative climate communities would show the cumulative benefit that can occur when we work to protect the environment and improve public health at the same time,” Rendón said. “Fresno is the perfect place to benefit from the transformative climate communities program.”
“FRESNO IS THE PERFECT PLACE TO BENEFIT FROM THE TRANSFORMATIVE CLIMATE COMMUNITIES PROGRAM.” Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendón.
“These bills help us achieve the progressive improvement goals we set up to achieve,” Rendón said.
The legislation signed by Brown in Fresno are: AB 1550 by Assemblymember Jimmy Gómez, D-Los Ángeles; AB 2722 by Assemblymember Autumn R. Burke, D-Inglewood; and, SB 859 and AB 1613 by budget committees, to invest $900 million of the remaining unallocated funds for fiscal year 2016-17 and reserves approximately $462 million for use in future years.
Verónica Garibay-González, co-director with Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability said a lot of community residents from the San Joaquín Valley went to Sacramento to make sure “these policies reach the governor’s desk this year, to make sure the dollars from the greenhouse gas reduction fund actually reach our communities.”
Garibay-González said low income communities are hit the worse by climate change.
“We see heat, we see drought issues, air quality,” she said, adding that they wanted to make sure the money from the bill signed in Fresno reaches the communities that need it the most.
Garibay-González said some of the bills create programs to ensure “the community is part of the solution.”
“California decided to fight poverty with the same program that fights climate change and pollution, bringing jobs, investment and consumer benefits to disadvantaged communities,” said Greenlining Institute environmental equity director Álvaro Sánchez. “We’ve created a model for the nation to follow.”