Why Don’t We Riot Over Wealth Inequality?

Why Don’t We Riot Over Wealth Inequality?

Tell people their gas taxes are going up and they will riot, literally.  Tell people that 62 individuals hold the same amount of wealth as the 3.7 billion people who make up the poorest half of the world’s population and we don’t blink an eye. Okay, maybe we do a hard blink but we certainly don’t riot.  Or perhaps gas tax riots are actually severe wealth inequality riots in disguise? France has been embroiled in mass and violent protests to proposed diesel and gas tax increases that have forced France’s government to suspend its plans to increase taxes and to also immediately freeze prices on electricity and home heating fuel.…
Read More Continue reading


Equity, Innovation and the Race to Save the Planet

Equity, Innovation and the Race to Save the Planet

Two weeks ago I had the privilege and honor to attend Elemental Excelerator’s Earth Day Energy Summit, a celebration of the 10 year anniversary of the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative. The celebration focused on 10 years of working with some of the smartest and most committed climate warriors in Hawaii, resulting in awarding over $22 million to more than 60 companies for energy, water, mobility, and agriculture innovations. The Earth Day Summit was both a celebration and a recommitment to do more, go farther, and achieve energy independence in Hawaii as quickly as possible. Many participants at the summit also committed to building a clean energy future that doesn’t leave…
Read More Continue reading


Fighting Climate Change, Poverty and Pollution — Join Us

Fighting Climate Change, Poverty and Pollution — Join Us

This month, low-income residents in Sacramento and Los Angeles will get access to electric vehicle carsharing programs that provide pollution-free mobility at low or no cost to them. These programs represent just a small part of California’s multi-billion dollar effort to combat climate change while fighting poverty and pollution together. It wasn’t always that way. For too long, the environmental and social justice movements stood miles apart — barely talking, and sometimes fighting each other. It’s been an arduous struggle to get where we are today, paved with the sweat and tears of environmental justice leaders. But today we see a growing realization that it’s too simple to say that…
Read More Continue reading


Cap-and-Trade, Clean Energy, and Protecting Communities of Color

Cap-and-Trade, Clean Energy, and Protecting Communities of Color

Oakland, Los Angeles, and Fresno were not always some of the most polluted and impoverished communities in California, but they are now. As California contemplates updating its clean energy policies, including cap-and-trade, we must remember the debt we owe these and other communities devastated by decades of disinvestment and structural racism. Industrialization, migration, white flight, redlining, and massive (and misguided) infrastructure spending resulted in concentrations of poverty and pollution in communities of color throughout California. In recent years environmental justice and equity advocates have successfully passed laws to tackle this problem, making a cleaner and more equitable future for impacted communities more likely.  But progress remains too slow and too…
Read More Continue reading


Top 10 Things To Know About California Climate Investments

Top 10 Things To Know About California Climate Investments

A few years ago, California started an ambitious program to charge polluters for the climate-changing greenhouse gases they put into our air, and then use that money to promote clean energy and energy savings while bringing the benefits of this growing clean energy economy to our most polluted and economically struggling communities. The California Department of Finance must submit an annual report to the legislature on the status and outcomes of projects funded by the money polluters pay into the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. The 2017 Annual Report lists the projects funded by the GGRF and describes their status. It also provides estimates of the greenhouse gas reductions expected from project…
Read More Continue reading


What Will You Do When They Start Rounding Us Up?

What Will You Do When They Start Rounding Us Up?

“We can’t be afraid.  We go on and do what we always do and ‘echale ganas’ (give it your all).  That’s all we can do.” This is what my mom told me after California voters approved Prop. 187, a draconian law that required various state and local agencies to report persons suspected of being undocumented and barred undocumented immigrants from basic public services like education and health. It was 1994, I was 13 years old, undocumented, and fearful for my and my family’s future. My mom’s simple message of perseverance and not giving up helped me overcome my fear and contributed to me becoming the first person in my family…
Read More Continue reading


AB 1550 – Increasing Equity in California’s Climate Investments

AB 1550 – Increasing Equity in California’s Climate Investments

Yesterday I wrote about the progress California’s effort against climate change is making, both in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and in bringing energy-saving and clean-energy investments to our state’s disadvantaged communities.  That’s important, but it’s just half the story. The second half of the story is our chance to make this landmark program even better. AB 1550, authored by Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles) preserves the progress we have made so far in directing revenue from polluters to disadvantaged communities and then goes farther, ensuring that California Climate Investments benefit low-income households anywhere in the State. If it becomes law, AB 1550 will do two things: Send more money to…
Read More Continue reading


9 Things To Know About California’s Climate Investments

9 Things To Know About California’s Climate Investments

A few years ago, California started an ambitious program to charge polluters for the climate-changing greenhouse gases they put into our air, and then use that money to promote clean energy and energy savings while bringing the benefits of this growing clean energy economy to our most polluted and economically struggling communities.  How’s that effort going? We now have partial answers, and while incomplete, they’re encouraging. The California Department of Finance is required to submit an annual report to the Legislature on the status and outcomes of projects funded by the money polluters pay into the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF).  The 2016 Annual Report lists the projects funded by…
Read More Continue reading


My Feet, Your Feet and the Paris Climate Talks

My Feet, Your Feet and the Paris Climate Talks

Look down.  What do you see? Only the most clean, reliable and affordable mode of transportation we have:  Our own two feet. This week in Paris, negotiators representing 195 countries are working on an agreement some hope will be the world’s most ambitious response to climate change ever. While the final agreement may leave many unsatisfied one thing is clear, the world recognizes that climate change is real and that we must do something to prevent catastrophic consequences to our planet. Something I have been doing in Paris this week to reduce my impact on our planet is walking.  Yes, that boring thing. Turns out that Parisians made it incredibly easy…
Read More Continue reading


Paris Climate Talks Are About Our Communities

Paris Climate Talks Are About Our Communities

I wrote this blog 30,000 feet up in the air on my way to the UN Climate Summit in Paris.  Getting the privilege to attend this important global event is a far cry from where my life was 15 years ago.  Back then I was an undocumented immigrant living in Oakland and trying to keep my head above water.  The year 2001 was a particularly bad year for me:  My employer at a good job let me go because my undocumented status was revealed after the attacks of 9/11 prompted more robust background checks; the terrorists attacks themselves ended any possibility of immigration reform, which seemed very possible that year.…
Read More Continue reading