California’s budget surplus is a historic opportunity for climate-safe investments

We live in an extraordinary time for California’s budget. Despite previous predictions of a major COVID-induced deficit, the state instead is currently sitting on an unprecedented budget surplus to the tune of nearly $100 billion. This presents a massive opportunity to invest in climate resilience, clean energy, green jobs, and more.

The legislative budget process is an evolving, months-long, and often opaque process (learn about it in more detail here). Right now, we’re nearing the end of that process. In accordance with the state’s June 15 deadline, lawmakers voted to adopt a budget earlier this week. However, negotiations between the legislature and the governor are ongoing, and the state’s final budget won’t be revealed until later in the month. Typically by now, lawmakers are debating which pieces of the budget to cut, but that’s not the case with this year’s historic surplus. Instead, they’re debating where to invest

This year’s budget includes several items that we at The Climate Center are excited to see. Due to the enormity of the surplus and unresolved negotiations on the specifics of allocating funding, many of the key items of interest for The Climate Center are in the form of packages. 

Some of the packages to take note of include:

  • $1.2 billion for climate resilience 
  • $2.2 billion for zero-emission vehicles 
  • $835 million for clean energy

These are, without a doubt, historic investments. But there are more details to work out before we can get too excited. How these packages are implemented, how investments are directed, and who controls the money will all be hammered out through additional legislation called trailer bills. It’s vital that the money we invest in climate solutions be doled out equitably, that communities already enduring climate impacts get their fair share, and that we support oil and gas workers as we transition to renewable energy sources. 

There’s still a lot of work to be done, but there’s one thing you can do today. Out of that $1.2 billion resilience package, The Climate Center and our members are pushing to secure funding for community energy resilience. With much of the state already experiencing extreme heat and grid operators warning about the need to curtail power usage, we need solutions that allow our communities to keep power going without relying on fossil-fueled generators. That’s what community energy resilience projects can do — take a moment to write your legislators about community energy resilience today

Finally, while this budget includes significant investments in climate programs, it still falls short of what we need to comprehensively address the climate crisis. The costs of waiting — more devastating fires, burdens on the healthcare system, and more — are so much higher than the costs of taking bold action today. We look at this year’s budget as a downpayment. California is beginning to invest in the kinds of programs that will stave off the worst impacts of the climate crisis, but this can’t be a one-time thing. Creating the safe, healthy, just future all Californians deserve requires sustained, significant investment from our leaders in Sacramento. 

Sustainable mobility is key for a Climate-Safe California

Imagine a highly trafficked street with negligible space for bike lanes, narrow sidewalks, limited tree cover, zero grocery stores in sight, and homes tucked right off the road. Climate change-driving emissions spew from gas-guzzling cars that zoom not far from the same neighborhoods children are growing up in right now, the same areas where older adults are spending their later years dealing with respiratory illnesses. 

Sadly, this toxic transportation scene plays on repeat throughout much of California every day.

We know the state must invest in sustainable mobility in California’s most disadvantaged communities, as laid out in The Climate Center’s Climate-Safe California Campaign. That means reprioritizing transportation investments to support housing near jobs and other essential services; phasing out polluting gas-powered cars and driving adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) and installation of charging stations; improving access to zero emissions public transit; and designing other innovative programs that reduce air pollution and improve health. Learn more about our clean mobility platform here

Before we run through a round-up of local green transportation initiatives, let’s start by acknowledging that the way our transit infrastructure was developed in so many California communities was and remains inequitable, inefficient, and devastating to public health and the environment.

San Joaquin County is an instructive case study in what has happened across the state. Erin Reynolds, associate program manager for Public Health Advocates, attributes the interrelated transit and health inequities that many San Joaquin County residents face today to redlining practices in the 1930s and years of subsequent discriminatory housing practices that denied services to and restricted investment in black and brown communities. 

Reynolds says segregation left pockets of Stockton neglected as developers drove urban sprawl north of Downtown. Development of single-family homes farther away from other land uses like stores and restaurants increased traffic and drive times, all of which spewed more air pollutants.

Formerly redlined neighborhoods in Stockton are now suffering from some of the most toxic air quality and highest rates of respiratory illnesses, poverty, housing insecurity, and unemployment in California. These are neighborhoods like Little Manila and Boggs Tract near the highly trafficked junction of Interstate 5 and the Crosstown Freeway, the construction of which played a significant role in displacing the largest community of Filipinos outside the Philippines in the 1970s. With the vast majority of industrial zoning located in South and Central Stockton, communities are also exposed to diesel trucking routes off the freeway and other sources of industry pollution.

“Folks are dealing with health burdens, because we have communities that have been disinvested in, with no proper infrastructure – things that people need to live active, healthy lives,” Reynolds says. “These areas don’t have well-maintained sidewalks or good access to parks. Communities are bogged down with higher crime rates, so people are not feeling safe in their surroundings. Not being able to enjoy your neighborhood and lacking access to healthcare and healthy foods impacts mental and physical health.”

Clean transit investment in disadvantaged communities is long overdue. In San Joaquin County, a number of model initiatives are being undertaken to improve transit infrastructure and planning and reduce emissions.

Round-up of San Joaquin County Sustainable Mobility Projects

  • EV, E-bike share grant set to hit the streets in Stockton
    • Proposed for a $7.4 million grant award from the California Air Resources Board, the San Joaquin Council of Governments anticipates kick-off in late Spring of 2021 for the Stockton Mobility Collective Project to introduce EV- and E-bike-sharing programs (100 bikes and 30 cars); 20 e-workforce apprenticeships; a shared-mobility incentives program to provide fare discounts to qualified riders; and improvements to the one-stop-shop Vamos Mobility app. The app will soon include EV and e-bike share services. “We hope that providing these resources in the coming year will help families recover from some of the negative impacts of the pandemic and generate support for clean transportation in the region,” says SJCOG Senior Planner Christine Corrales.
  • Major improvements to Minor Ave. 
    • A 10-block stretch of Minor Ave from Center St. and Aurora St. in Stockton is getting a bike- and pedestrian-friendly facelift. Paid for by a Complete Streets grant, improvements include buffered bicycle lanes, landscaped medians, signal and lighting improvements, a roundabout, sewer line upgrades, and sidewalk extensions with ADA compliant crossings and bollards. City staff say the project is estimated to be finished by the end of 2021.
  • Stockton Diamond Grade Separation project
    • The San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission is proposing a flyover to decrease rail congestion and emissions south of Downtown Stockton near Aurora Street South and East Scotts Avenue. Planners say reducing delay time for vehicles and trains at the Stockton Diamond junction would cut emissions and improve local air quality. Construction on the $237 million project would likely start in May of 2023. 
  • SUSD bus fleet electrification
    • Funded through state grants, Stockton Unified School District (SUSD) has electrified 6 of its 96 buses, and plans to have five more on routes by the end of May. This project is especially important because it’s eliminating harmful tailpipe emissions near the district’s 54 schools, which are located in and around disadvantaged communities with some of the worst air quality in the state. SUSD is striving to become the first zero-emission school district in California.

Let’s advocate together for clean, equitable transit solutions.

For more information, check out The Climate Center’s Sustainable Mobility webinar. Endorse Climate-Safe California here to urge your state legislators to set more aggressive Greenhouse Gas emission reductions goals through policies that center environmental justice and help us adapt to climate change.

Sonoma County aerial

Petaluma City Council moves to ban new gas stations

by Kathryn Palmer, The Press Democrat 


Highlights

  • The City Council in Petaluma, located in Sonoma County, moved to ban new gas stations by enacting a two-year moratorium
  • Petaluma is the first city in the Nation to enact such a ban
  • The effort is a part of the City’s climate framework for net negative emissions by 2030
  • Current gas stations will have a more streamlined process to add electric vehicle charging stations as well as hydrogen fuel cell stations

The Climate Center’s Climate-Safe California Campaign includes measures for clean transportation systems. For a safe and healthy future for all, endorse the Climate-Safe California Platform to implement scalable solutions that can reverse the climate crisis.


Read More: https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/news/petaluma-city-council-moves-to-ban-new-gas-stations/

Equitable clean energy– support this new bill

Technology and market trends of this moment are laying the groundwork for a clean, affordable, reliable, equitable and safe electricity grid in California. Unfortunately, our laws are sabotaging us.

The failings of our archaic electrical system, which ignited many of California’s recent wildfires, are causing homeowners, businesses, hospitals, firefighters, and others to buy fossil fuel-powered back-up generators– increasing emissions that drive climate change and making fires worse.

Right now California regulators are considering new contracts for fossil fuel-powered plants in response to last summer’s blackouts. This is a big step in the wrong direction.

Instead, California policy should help local governments and stakeholders develop clean energy resilience plans that address climate change while prioritizing our most vulnerable communities.

Senate Bill 99, introduced by Senator Bill Dodd and sponsored by The Climate Center, will help local governments do just that by providing them with the technical tools and support to develop their own community energy resilience plans, rather than relying on investor-owned utilities.

While many wealthier communities have access to clean energy and energy storage, California can and must prioritize equitable access to clean energy resilience for communities that suffer most from air pollution and power outages. Senate Bill 99 prioritizes support for these communities.

Support Senate Bill 99, the Community Energy Resilience Act now.

The technology needed to create this new decentralized energy future is available now. The energy storage industry is booming with microgrid projects proliferating and an accelerated transition to electric vehicles globally.

General Motors’ recent announcement committing to selling only zero-emissions vehicles by 2035 and President Biden’s plan for an all-electric federal fleet present the possibility of quickly scaling up electric vehicle adoption and thus, battery storage for energy resilience.

Support The Climate Center’s policy leadership to secure local clean energy and storage.

Automakers and charging infrastructure manufacturers are already developing vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology which could be used by utilities to minimize power outages and effectively capture, store and send solar energy back to the grid during peak demand hours.

For example, if all of California’s 24,000 school buses were electric and able to discharge energy to the electric grid during peak hours, we could substantially reduce chances of blackouts, help fight climate change, and avoid local air pollution, all at the same time.

Help us secure policies like SB99 for equitable community energy resilience!

To achieve widespread adoption of clean energy microgrids, our state’s broken regulations must be fixed. New forward-thinking policies can ensure that every community can install renewables and storage where they need it most.

The Climate Center is working with diverse partners across the state to secure the needed policies for equitable access to resilient clean energy.

Make a donation todaysupport Senate Bill 99, and if you haven’t already, endorse Climate-Safe California!

With gratitude,

Ellie

Ellie Cohen, CEO

Why we urgently need to phase out polluting cars

I live in an area where big polluting trucks are far more common than electric vehicles (EVs), but public support for policies to shift away from polluting vehicles is not. The transportation sector is responsible for roughly 40% of California’s carbon pollution and for much of the air pollution in the region where I live. Despite widespread anti-regulatory sentiments in my region, as a Latinx woman who has lived in the Central Valley of California for almost all of my life, I support Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order to phase out polluting gasoline-powered vehicles. 

The above mentioned Executive Order directs the state’s Air Resources Board and other agencies to develop rules, regulations, and interim steps leading up to the 2035 cessation of new gasoline car sales. Two important things to note: 1) Communities should engage in this process to ensure that lower-income drivers can afford to replace their vehicles with clean cars; 2) No gasoline-powered cars will be taken from anyone. Even after 2035, people will still be able to drive gasoline cars, but by that time, it is highly likely that gas cars will be obsolete, and fewer people will be driving them. 

Polluting cars have disproportionately impacted the health and safety of Latinos for far too long. Latinos breathe 40% more particulate matter than Caucasian Californians according to a study by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). Kern County produces 70% of the oil in California, and 1% of the world’s total oil production. Within the Central Valley, these points of extraction and processing of oil and gas are adjacent to many low-income communities of color, including Latinx communities. 

Approximately 5.4 million Californians live within a mile of one or more of over 84,000 existing oil and gas wells. Communities of color make up nearly 92% of the 1.8 million people living near drilling in heavily polluted areas. It is irresponsible to continue this way. We can choose a different path– with public investments that will generate more jobs and in turn, create healthier communities.  

Phasing out gas-powered vehicles has economic benefits for lower-income residents as well. Many independent studies, including this recent one from Consumer Reports, confirm that the lifetime cost of EVs is lower than comparable gasoline cars. In the long run, they are cheaper to maintain because they have fewer moving parts than a conventional diesel/petroleum car. Electric vehicles do not have expensive exhaust systems, starter motors, fuel injection systems, radiators, and many other parts that aren’t needed in an EV. 

If the upfront purchase price of Electric Vehicles is an issue, there are statewide and local incentive programs that help make EVs more affordable for the average family. There are several clean vehicle incentive programs and rebates for Californians: California Air Resources Board’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Program, Plug-In America, The Greenlining Institute, and Drive Clean San Joaquin, to name a few.

The state must also take responsibility for prioritizing more charging stations in rural and lower-income areas. Having a proper charging infrastructure in place is critical for a clean vehicle transition. Of course, this is not going to happen overnight, but we must set bold targets, accelerate timelines, and lay the groundwork now for a clean and safe transportation system that serves us all. If we work together, we can ensure equal access to clean vehicles for those most affected by air pollution and climate impacts and least responsible for them

The Climate Center is working to address sustainable mobility with a goal to achieve a 70 to 85 percent drop in vehicle emissions by 2030. To do this we need a transportation system that is not dependent on fossil fuels. It must be equitable, accessible, affordable, safe, clean, and it must include public participation in decision- making process. Support The Climate Safe California Campaign which calls for accelerating existing state policies to better align with the science and rapidly worsening climate reality.

We have the solutions and technologies today to help solve the climate crisis. By addressing these problems, we are creating pathways to solutions that are much needed for low-income and communities of color. 

California will make Uber and Lyft nearly all-EV by 2030

by David Ferris, Governors’ Wind and Solar Energy Coalition


Highlights

  • The California Air Resources Board (CARB) released its Clean Miles Standard, a plan which works to regulate the emissions of ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft
  • Drivers for these companies tend to contribute to carbon emissions and traffic congestion because they are often driving around without passengers to transport
  • The new plan calls for the electrification of their fleet by 2030, regulates the emissions of miles driven by rail hailing drivers, and calls for these companies to invest in bike lanes and help improve public transportation
  • These new rules take effect in 2023

The Climate Center’s Climate-Safe California Campaign includes measures for clean transportation systems. For a safe and healthy future for all, endorse the Climate-Safe California Platform to implement scalable solutions that can reverse the climate crisis.


Read More: https://governorswindenergycoalition.org/calif-will-make-uber-and-lyft-nearly-all-ev-by-2030/

UK to ban selling new gas and diesel cars by 2030

by Catherine Thorbecke, ABC News


Highlights

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the United Kingdom would ban the sale of new gas and diesel vehicles by 2030 as a part of his “Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution”
  • Boris Johnson claims that this initiative would create 250,000 jobs 
  • About $665 million will be used to develop and produce batteries for electric vehicles and $1.7 billion will be utilized to install charging infrastructure throughout Britain
  • In order to incentivize buyers to go electric, the government pledged over $774 million in grants for zero and low emissions vehicles

The Climate Center’s Climate-Safe California Campaign includes measures for clean transportation systems. For a safe and healthy future for all, endorse the Climate-Safe California Platform to implement scalable solutions that can reverse the climate crisis.


Read More: https://abcnews.go.com/Business/uk-ban-selling-gas-diesel-cars-2030/story?id=74274466

Washington State voters support transition to electric cars by 2030

from Coltura


Highlights

  • New polling shows that 59% of voters in Washington state support policy that would require cars and light trucks from 2030 or later be electric in order to be registered in-state
  • These voters believe that this policy would have positive results in efforts to fight climate change and would benefit the health of Washington residents
  • This comes after California Governor Gavin Newsom announced banning gas cars in his state by 2035, five years after a Washington policy may take effect
  • The potential bill, “Clean Cars 2030,” would require that all new passenger vehicles be electric by 2030
  • Matthew Metz, co-executive director of Coltura believes this law would not require large sums of money to be spent by the state:

“It achieves these goals with minimal government spending by creating large, guaranteed EV markets that will incentivize the private sector to invest heavily in electric vehicles and charging infrastructure.”


The Climate Center’s Climate-Safe California Platform includes solutions for clean mobility to cut greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. Governor Newsom’s recent Executive Order N-79-20 banning the sale of new gas-powered cars and trucks by 2035 is a great first step, but more is needed to secure climate stability. The Climate Center released a requested Executive Order in alignment with our Climate-Safe California Platform shortly before the Governor’s announcement. 


Read More: https://www.coltura.org/coltura-news/2020/10/7/washington-state-voters-support-transition-to-electric-cars-by-2030

Governor Newsom has taken a bold first step. Urge him to do more.

After several weeks of record-breaking heat, fires, and smoke, Governor Newsom today reiterated that we are in a climate emergency and announced Executive Order N-79-20 requiring 100% of all new in-state sales of cars and light trucks to be zero-emissions vehicles by 2035. 

This makes California the first state in the nation to ban new gas-powered cars.

Please join us in thanking the governor for his bold action!

With transportation being the single largest source of global warming pollutants in California and nationwide, today’s announcement is a major step forward. As the biggest car market in the US, California wields significant influence on other car markets across the country and the world. 

We are also pleased that the new Executive Order also includes provisions for phasing out fracking in California, as well as publication by next summer of plans to support and “expeditiously” implement a just transition for workers employed in fossil fuel industries. 

Today’s announcement is a significant step toward the comprehensive policy recommendations The Climate Center has been recommending recently to the Newsom Administration and other state leaders. 

In fact, the Climate Center recently sent our proposed comprehensive DRAFT Executive Order to the Governor, based on the latest science and rapidly worsening climate reality, and building on Climate-Safe California.

The governor anticipates issuing additional Executive Orders over the weeks ahead.

To fully address the climate emergency, we urge him to accelerate California’s existing greenhouse gas reduction targets to achieve 80% below 1990 emissions levels and net-negative emissions by 2030. We also request that he commit to other key steps including:

  • an immediate halt to new gas and oil drilling permits, a start to the phase-out of fossil fuel production and exports, 
  • a commitment to 100% clean electricity by 2030, 
  • a dramatic ramp-up of investments in nature-based sequestration through habitat and soils management, and,
  • major investments in community resilience, including regulatory changes that open up markets for clean energy microgrids and decentralized clean energy. 

Thank you Governor Newsom for re-asserting California’s climate leadership at this critical moment!

While today’s announcement is a significant step forward, the latest science demands more aggressive actions be taken sooner for the health of our planet and the health of our communities, especially frontline lower-income communities and communities of color. 

We urge Governor Newsom to issue additional Executive Orders to fully address the climate crisis.

California’s climate policies are still substantially behind what is required to secure a climate-safe future. They are also behind new national proposals which include achieving 100% clean electricity by 2030, major investments in natural and working lands for carbon sequestration, and scaled up community resilience efforts, including clean energy microgrids. 

California law currently calls for just 60% renewable energy by 2030, has no major programs investing in natural and working lands, and only aspires to carbon neutrality by 2045. It is not enough! California must do more for the country to realize these urgently needed proposed national goals.

Thank Governor Newsom today for his history-making Executive Order and support him doing more. 

As part of numerous Climate Week 2020 NYC virtual activities, Governor Newsom will be hosting California Climate Action Day, September 24 from 9 AM – 2 PM, including a discussion with Van Jones about how California can develop an aggressive climate change agenda. The events can be viewed after on the Governor’s YouTube page here.  

Take action today to let the Governor know that we support his taking the bold, urgently needed action now! 

EV San Jose

California greenlights electric vehicle charging program for 38,000 new charging stations

from The Sierra Club, Clean Technica


Highlights

  • Southern California Edison’s (SCE) Charge Ready 2 program was approved by the California Public Utilities Commission which will result in the addition of 38,000 new charging stations across Southern California over the next four years
  • The program aims to increase clean transportation options particularly in underserved communities by using some of the $437 million allocated to the program to implement electric vehicle infrastructure in workplaces and multi-unit dwellings
  • Nearly $15 million will be used on education and outreach
  • The Charge Ready 2 program is the largest single program for any utility in the country and builds off of the Charge Ready program that SCE initiated in 2014

Increased air pollution from fossil fuel emissions– including tailpipes– makes all of us more vulnerable to the current COVID-19 pandemic. The Climate Center’s Climate-Safe California Platform includes solutions for clean mobility to cut greenhouse gas emissions from transportation.


Read More: https://cleantechnica.com/2020/08/27/california-greenlights-electric-vehicle-charging-program-for-38000-new-charging-stations/