| Blog Post

Testimony: Save California’s clean air safety net

People protest before a public meeting of South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) Hearing Board.
Photo by David McNew / Greenpeace.

On February 29, 2024, the California Senate Budget Subcommittee on Resources, Environmental Protection, and Energy met to hear from experts and the public on the proposed 2024-2025 state budget. Facing a projected $73 billion budget deficit, Governor Newsom has proposed billions in potential cuts to climate and energy investments. If approved by the legislature, the cuts could have disastrous consequences for communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis, who are already breathing some of the most polluted air in the nation.

Coming off the hottest year on record, California needs to strengthen critical climate programs, not cut them. Every dollar we invest in fighting the climate crisis today will save lives.

The following testimony was given to the committee by Kendra Harris, Government Affairs Manager for The Climate Center:

Before you even consider cuts to equitable clean air programs, we must significantly expand the governor’s proposed cuts to oil and gas subsidies by eliminating fossil fuel industry subsidies and cutting out other dead-end infrastructure investments. For example, highway expansion funding increases pollution, does nothing to relieve congestion, and only makes us more reliant on dirty technologies.

People living with polluted air — which is only made worse by the climate crisis — continue to suffer from systematic marginalization that makes them sick and can lead to early death. It’s estimated that 7,500 deaths can be attributed to air pollution each year in California.

The state’s clean air safety net is already chronically underfunded and this budget threatens to completely zero out promised investments in programs that are working to save lives and improve quality of life in marginalized communities.