More money to fight warming, polluted air in California issued

High atop a parking garage in downtown Fresno, California Governor Jerry Brown on Wed., Sept. 14, 2016 affixed his signature to several bills thereby enacting legislation that allocates monies to fight warming and polluted air in the state.

A very smoggy 1972 L.A. day
A very smoggy 1972 L.A. day

In the governor’s presence and bearing witness to the bills’ signature signings that day were (in no particular order) Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, California Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León, Assemblymembers Dr. Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno), Autumn R. Burke (D-Inglewood), Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon. Bills approved include: Assembly Bill (AB) 1550 (Gomez), AB 2722 (Burke) and Senate Bill (SB) 859 (Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review) and AB 1613 (Committee on Budget). Monies to the tune of $900 million were allocated in all. This follows on the heels of the governor’s approval of SB 32 less than a week earlier. (SB 32 enables California’s landmark Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 law to be extended 10 more years from year 2020 to 2030).

“Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today signed legislation that directs $900 million in cap-and-trade funds to greenhouse gas reducing programs that benefit disadvantaged communities, support clean transportation and protect natural ecosystems,” the California Environmental Protection Agency Air Resources Board (ARB) specified in the “Governor Signs Legislation to Support Communities Impacted by Climate Change” press statement. “The governor also signed bills that prioritize spending in communities disproportionally impacted by dirty air and carbon pollution.

“‘These cap-and-trade investments will help spur innovation of all kinds to curb carbon pollution,’ said Governor Brown at a signing ceremony in downtown Fresno, where cap-and-trade proceeds are helping to improve bus rapid transit services and access to affordable housing. ‘With these bills, we also help communities hard hit by pollution and climate change.’”

Currently, cap-and-trade auction proceeds help fund such projects and/or programs as affordable housing, high-speed rail, public transit and sustainable communities, to name four, according to the ARB in the release. The $900 million is from cap-and-trade generated, fiscal year 2016-’17 funds that had previously not been allocated from those funds remaining and roughly $462 million (just over half) represents an appropriation reserved for future years.

“Cap-and-trade investments in California, including expenditures in today’s agreement,” the ARB added, “total $3.2 billion.”

California, as a greenhouse gas emitter, adds approximately 1 percent GHG to world totals. At the same time, “the state is playing a leading role in broadening collaboration among subnational leaders,” the ARB emphasized.

“These efforts include spearheading the Under2Coalition, a global climate pact among cities, states and countries to limit the increase in the world’s average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius. A total of 135 jurisdictions representing 32 countries and six continents have now signed or endorsed the agreement. Together, they represent more than 783 million people and $21 trillion in [Gross Domestic Product], equivalent to more than a quarter of the global economy. Signatories commit to either reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80 to 95 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 or achieving a per capita annual emission target of less than 2 metric tons by 2050,” the ARB in the release continued.

The Golden State is home to some of the dirtiest air in the country and helping improve the health and well-being of citizens located in disadvantaged communities in state is what legislation of this kind is about.

“‘These bills unleash badly needed resources that can make tangible improvements to environmental health and quality of life in our most polluted and impoverished communities,’ said Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León. ‘This year we set ambitious new targets for reducing harmful emissions of greenhouse gases and other toxic pollutants. Now it’s time to use every tool at our disposal to reach those goals and improve lives in the process. These funds are a down-payment toward those ends – they will increase access to electric vehicles, solar panels, and low-carbon public transit; help us improve household energy efficiency and create new parks; and bolster our forest and wetland management efforts to better prepare for damaging wildfires and floods. …’”

And, for any and all proclaiming California’s emissions-trading program has not produced as anticipated, for the record, if $3.2 billion in cap-and-trade proceeds to date already invested isn’t testament to the contrary, than what is??!!

For more on this matter, see: the “Governor Signs Legislation to Support Communities Impacted by Climate Change” press release here.

Image above: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

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