Environmental Equity Advocates Call for More Investment in Disadvantaged Communities

Advocates for climate justice responded to Governor Brown’s budget proposal with a call for more funding for programs that reduce pollution, create jobs and improve services in low-income communities of color. The groups – Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Coalition for Clean Air, The Greenlining Institute and Public Advocates – lead the coalition that supports SB 535 (De León, 2012), a law which requires some of the funding generated by California’s greenhouse gas cap to be invested in the communities most affected by pollution and poverty.
“We applaud Governor Brown’s commitment to fund clean energy, sustainable transportation, affordable housing and urban forestry,” said Bill Magavern, Policy Director for Coalition for Clean Air. “But we urge the Legislature to work with the Governor to pass a budget with higher levels of investment in our neediest communities.” While the budget proposes to spend $1.002 billion from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF), experts expect more than twice that much money to be available in the GGRF, which comes from charges on the state’s biggest greenhouse polluters, because fuels are now included in California’s emission allowance auctions for the first time.
“We’ve already seen California climate policies start to bring investments, good jobs and cleaner air to communities hit first and worst by pollution and a weak economy, but it’s just a start. We can use these funds generated by charging our worst polluters to help struggling neighborhoods not just survive but thrive,” added Alvaro Sanchez, Greenlining’s Program Manager for Environmental Equity.

“California has an opportunity to address decades of environmental injustice by investing in clean energy, public transit, cleaner freight, urban forestry and affordable housing near transit,” commented Mari Rose Taruc, State Organizing Director for Asian Pacific Environmental Network.
“Directing revenues from AB 32 into low-income communities of color, as required by SB 535 and other laws, will allow all Californians to benefit from our state’s groundbreaking climate protection policies,” said Marybelle Nzegwu, staff attorney for Public Advocates.
The groups will advocate for more funding to be added to the final budget approved in June, after two more auctions of emission allowances generate additional revenues for the GGRF.