Consumer Groups Ask Ninth Circuit to Block FCC Broadband Order Downgrading Rural America

Today, Public Knowledge, joined by The Greenlining Institute, The Utility Reform Network, and National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates, filed a Petition for Review with the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The petition asks the court to reverse and vacate the Federal Communications Commission’s November Order rolling back the agency’s consumer protections for Americans on legacy copper phone lines.

More than 76 million people — especially low-income and elderly individuals — still rely on copper lines for telecommunications services. Many rural communities have no cable provider and poor wireless coverage, making traditional copper the only option for broadband, or even basic voice services such as 911. Millions of Americans could lose access to vital communications services without the protections the FCC is moving to rescind in this new Order.

Last month’s Order reverses rules the FCC adopted in 2015 to protect individuals and communities still dependent on legacy copper lines as telephone companies retire them. The FCC eliminated the ability of communities to demand that phone companies maintain copper lines until those lines are replaced with an adequate and comparable service, rather than simply abandoning them (called “de facto retirement”). The FCC also eliminated the “functional test,” which required phone companies to support essential non-voice services, such as alarm systems, medical monitors, and small business services, during the transition to fiber. Finally, the FCC eliminated the 180-day notice requirement for individuals and business customers, making it much more difficult for those still relying on copper lines to minimize the cost and disruption of finding adequate replacement services.

Public Knowledge and The Greenlining Institute believe this rollback will harm rural communities that already struggle economically and will widen the digital divide. Additionally, the cost of the transition will fall most heavily on those who can least afford it and who are already on the wrong end of that divide: the elderly, the poor, and America’s growing rural communities of color. Petitioners ask the Ninth Circuit to reverse the November rollback of these protections as “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or contrary to law.”

The following can be attributed to Harold Feld, Senior Vice President at Public Knowledge:

“The protections the FCC previously adopted ensured that the retirement of legacy phone services would be an upgrade for everyone, not an upgrade for some and a downgrade for others. The FCC claims that removing these protection will encourage telephone companies to upgrade their networks more quickly. But it practically guarantees that these companies will continue to leave rural America behind.”

The following can be attributed to Vinhcent Le, Telecommunications Legal Counsel at The Greenlining Institute:

“The FCC’s continual rollback of consumer protections to benefit telephone companies like AT&T and Verizon is unprecedented. This order will harm millions in rural communities, and will especially harm the over 10 million people of color who live in rural communities and who already have fewer resources and face greater obstacles to economic opportunity than their neighbors.”

You may read the Petition for Review for more information.

Mick Mulvaney Appointment as CFPB Director Disastrous for Consumers, Greenlining Institute Says

Legally Questionable Appointee Will Push to Gut Consumer Protections, Spell Disaster for Communities of Color

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 415-846-7758 (cell)

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – President Trump’s legally dubious appointment Friday of Mick Mulvaney to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, would be disastrous for U.S. consumers, The Greenlining Institute said today. Mulvaney has called the bureau “a sick, sad joke,”  and “the very worst kind of government entity.”

The appointment is expected to set up a legal battle, as outgoing CFPB director Richard Cordray had attempted to name his successor hours earlier by naming Leandra English to the position of deputy director, who would normally assume the top job should it become vacant.

“This continues President Trump’s pattern of appointing agency heads whose express intent is to destroy the office they lead,” said Greenlining Institute Economic Equity Director Kỳ-Nam Kwon Miller. “Mulvaney will be as big a gift to Wall Street grifters as Scott Pruitt has been to polluters. Leandra English is the right person to lead the CFPB. As a dedicated public servant who has spent her career making federal service delivery more efficient and effective, Ms. English has the capacity, experience, and skill set to serve as acting CFPB director until an appropriate nominee is put forward by the White House and the Senate votes to confirm him or her.”

The CFPB was created by the Dodd-Frank financial reform law after it became clear that predatory, deceptive lending practices played a huge role in the subprime mortgage crisis that triggered the Great Recession. Much of the worst activity specifically targeted communities of color and low-income borrowers.

“We supported CFPB’s creation because our communities got hit worst by predatory lending, and literally no one in government was looking out for financial consumers,” said Greenlining Institute President Orson Aguilar. “CPFB’s first director, Richard Cordray, championed ordinary Americans, obtaining literally billions in relief for people who’d been gouged. This appointment makes clear that President Trump wants to leave consumers defenseless against being ripped off by shady financial firms.”

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute

greenlining.org
@Greenlining

New Report: Women of Color Underrepresented Among Doctors, Face Major Barriers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NOVEMBER 2, 2017

New Report: Women of Color Underrepresented Among Doctors, Face Major Barriers
Women of Color Are Only 11.7% of Doctors, Well Below Their Population Share

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 510-926-4022415-846-7758 (cell)

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – A new report from The Greenlining Institute and the Artemis Medical Society finds that women of color are severely underrepresented among U.S. physicians and face serious barriers to entering medicine and succeeding in the field. This, in turn, means millions of Americans of color lack access to culturally competent care from a provider with whom they feel comfortable. The report, “Breaking Down Barriers for Women Physicians of Color,” is based on in-depth interviews with 20 women physicians from California and around the U.S.

“America needs doctors as diverse as our population, but we don’t have them due to a flawed system,” said Artemis Medical Society President Dr. Myiesha Taylor, a board-certified emergency medicine physician specialist.

“We know that doctors who understand their patients’ communities and cultures can provide better care,” said Artemis Medical Society Vice President Dr. Deonza Thymes. “Having more diverse physicians means better care for everyone.”

Key findings of the report include:

  • Many physicians interviewed described a lack of support from high school and college counselors, college professors and graduate students. Shockingly, 40 percent of interviewees recalled a high school or college counselor attempting to discourage them from pursuing a medical career, while over half had questioned their prospects of succeeding as a physician because they had never met a physician who shared their racial identity. These factors no doubt contribute to the fact that women of color are severely underrepresented in medicine, representing just 11.7 percent of physicians.
  • In addition to a lack of diversity among medical school faculty, participants cited incidents of overt racism. Several cited specific instances when lecturers casually referenced racist tropes to describe unruly patient interactions. Many interviewees described unequal treatment during medical school and residency, including instances in which male students were encouraged to voice their opinions while women were more likely to be silenced.
  • Interviewees also cited financial barriers, including the expense of applying to medical schools, which cost each interviewee several thousand dollars.

“Health sector employers, universities and foundations must all step up their effort to diversify the physician pipeline and make cultural competence a core element of medical schools and residency programs,” said Greenlining Institute Health Policy Director and report co-author Anthony Galace. “Medical schools and institutions must strengthen anti-discrimination and reporting policies to make sure that those who suffer discrimination feel safe in reporting it.”

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute

greenlining.org
@Greenlining

Charge Ahead California Campaign Applauds EV Bills Signed by Gov. Brown

For Immediate Release: October 11, 2017

On Tuesday, Governor Brown signed a series of bills that promote zero emission transportation.  These bills improve our access to Electric Vehicles (EVs) by placing charging stations in schools (AB 1082), parks and beaches (AB 1083) while prioritizing programs in disadvantaged communities.  This EV bill package also extends and increases rebates for low-moderate income households when purchasing EVs (AB 615) while expanding incentive programs that encourage residents to retire their older cars and replace them with cleaner ones (AB 630).  Others bills create aggressive targets for state fleet of zero emission vehicles and offer additional incentives for purchasing clean vehicles.  In response, organization members of the Charge Ahead California Campaign issued the following statements:

“As we near the end of another unhealthy smog season, Californians are searching for solutions to air pollution,” said Bill Magavern, Policy Director with Coalition for Clean Air.  A rapid shift to zero-emission vehicles is essential to delivering clean air, and the package of legislation signed by Governor Brown will help speed that transition by making both electric vehicles and charging stations more accessible.”

“Electrification of transportation, providing affordable access to clean mobility options for low-income communities of color, and creating effective just transition programs in EJ communities are central strategies for ending our dependence on fossil fuels in California while lifting up communities most in need,” said Bahram Fazeli, Director of Research & Policy with Communities for a Better Environment.  “We applaud our legislators and Governor Brown for taking steps in this direction, and urge them to continue to push for clean transportation options in disadvantaged communities who need relief the most from air pollution and are on the frontlines of climate change impacts.”

“As wildfires ravage multiple California counties, it is clear that we must act now to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. Thank you to Governor Brown and all the California legislators who championed these new policies to accelerate the transition to a clean electric vehicle future,” said Michelle Kinman, Clean Energy Advocate with Environment California.  “Expanding electric vehicle access for low-income Californians, installing charging infrastructure at schools and state parks, and increasing light- and heavy-duty electric vehicles in our public fleets – these are among the innovative solutions California needs to fully electrify our transportation sector by mid-century and set a strong example for other states to follow.”

“Discriminatory land use and transportation policy has devastated low-income communities of color with poor transit service and clogged freeways jammed with dirty cars and diesel trucks,” said Joel Espino, Environmental Equity Legal Counsel with The Greenlining Institute. “With this package of bills, California policymakers are disrupting that old way of thinking to make sure our neediest, most impacted communities benefit most from the EV revolution.”

“Schools, and state parks and beaches are long-dwell time locations well-suited to charging electric vehicles that, because they are also highly visible, could play an important role in overcoming a lack-of-awareness that is holding back the EV market,” said Max Baumhefner, Clean Vehicles & Fuels Attorney with Natural Resources Defense Council.

About the Charge Ahead California Campaign:

The Charge Ahead California Campaign, which launched its project in 2013, has played an instrumental role in raising awareness among decision-makers and the public about the benefits and opportunities in moving us closer towards our EV targets while identifying programs and policies that enhance access for disadvantaged communities. The Charge Ahead coalition has been working to place one million light, medium, and heavy-duty electric vehicles on California’s roads by 2023 and ensure that all Californians, especially lower-income households most impacted by air pollution, benefit from zero tailpipe emissions.

Exhaust from cars and trucks creates nearly 40 percent of California’s greenhouse gas emissions and hits low-income neighborhoods and communities of color hardest. Dirty air makes tens of thousands of Californians sick, costs us billions in avoidable health costs, and causes twice as many deaths as traffic-related accidents. The impacts of this pollution are far worse for lower-income families and people of color because they are more likely to live near busy roads and freeways and be exposed to dangerous levels of emissions.

 

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New Report: Utility/Telecom Contracting with Minority- and LGBT-Owned Firms Grows

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 5, 2017

New Report: Utility/Telecom Contracting with Minority- and LGBT-Owned Firms Grows
Total Spending with Diverse Businesses Reaches $9.5 Billion but Comcast Lags; 2016 Was 1st Year for Reporting LGBT Contracting Stats

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 415-846-7758 (cell)

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – Contracting with diverse businesses by California’s major utility, telecommunications and water companies grew again in 2016, according to The Greenlining Institute’s latest Supplier Diversity Report Card. Still, performance varied greatly among companies, with Pacific Gas and Electric emerging as a leader and Comcast lagging. LGBT businesses were added to the California Public Utilities Commission’s supplier diversity program in 2015, and 2016 was the first year that companies had to report figures for their contracting with LGBT firms.

“We’re glad to see steady progress – progress that translates to jobs and opportunities for California’s diverse communities,” said Greenlining Institute Diversity and Inclusion Director Danielle Beavers. “Still, we can’t help but be disappointed that a huge and influential company like Comcast shows so little regard for California businesses owned by minorities, women, disabled veterans and LGBT Californians.”

Highlights of the report include:

  • Many companies increased their contracting with diverse businesses in 2016, spending a total of $6.38 billion with minority-owned businesses, $2.84 billion with women-owned businesses, and $431 million with companies owned by service-disabled veterans.
  • For the first time, figures were reported for LGBT-owned businesses, totaling just over $41 million.
  • Pacific Gas and Electric and Southern California Edison continued to be leaders, each earning an A grade with over 44 percent of contract dollars going to diverse firms.
  • Communications giant Comcast lagged badly, with its percentage of spending with diverse suppliers dropping by nearly half since 2013, resulting in a grade of D-. African American businesses got just over one half of one percent of Comcast’s contracting dollars, and Comcast spent nothing or nearly nothing with Native American-, disabled veteran- and LGBT-owned businesses.
  • Overall, contracting with Black-owned businesses lagged, with these firms getting just over three percent of total contracts.

Utility, telecommunications and water companies annually report data on contracting with diverse firms to the California Public Utilities Commission under the auspices of CPUC’s General Order 156. This legislatively authorized program seeks to boost California’s economy by encouraging contracting with businesses owned by minorities, women, service-disabled veterans and LGBT persons. Greenlining reviews the data each year and issues an annual report card, including evaluations and suggestions for improvement.

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute

greenlining.org
@Greenlining

Greenlining Institute Supports Small Business Data Collection

Greenlining Institute Supports Section 1071 of Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform, Consumer Protection Act

Contact: Leonna Spilman, Greenlining Institute Communications Coordinator, 442-999-1505 (cell)

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – On September 14th, The Greenlining Institute submitted a letter to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, along with 33 nonprofits, Chambers of Commerce, and business associations, strongly urging the CFPB to implement Section 1071 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act.

The rule would require financial institutions to compile, maintain, and report critical information about small business lending activity including an applicant’s race, ethnicity, and gender. Section 1071 will be critical in ensuring fair access to capital for small, women- and minority-owned businesses.

Research shows that credit denial rates for entrepreneurs of color – especially for Blacks and Latinos – and women are disproportionately higher than those of their white and male counterparts, even after controlling for variables such as business credit scores, personal wealth, and revenue. Ample research also finds that even when minority entrepreneurs do succeed in securing financing, they receive smaller loans and pay higher interest rates than their white counterparts, again, even after controlling for differences in creditworthiness.

“Small business loan data transparency is critical to ensuring entrepreneurs of color, women entrepreneurs, and small businesses will be empowered to achieve their immense potential when they have access to the capital they need. As a barometer of market conditions in small business finance, Greenlining believes Section 1071 will be instrumental in identifying discrepancies in lending and addressing the unique credit needs of entrepreneurs of color, women entrepreneurs, and small businesses.”

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute
greenlining.org
@Greenlining

 

Greenlining Institute Responds to Report of Uber Selling Oakland Building

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 24, 2017

Greenlining Institute Responds to Report of Uber Selling Oakland Building

Contact:
Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 510-926-4022415-846-7758 (cell)

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – This evening the San Francisco Business Times reported that Uber has placed its downtown Oakland building on the market. Greenlining Institute President Orson Aguilar, co-founder of the No Uber Oakland campaign, made the following statement:

“We started No Uber Oakland because we worried Uber could have negative effects on a city already struggling with gentrification, and because we never saw evidence that Uber had any real commitment to Oakland, despite occasional pleasant rhetoric. Clearly, that second part at least was right.

“Still, we never gave up hope that Uber would sit down and work with the Oakland community to create something that would be good both for the company and for Oaklanders. Uber, sadly, never had any interest in a real partnership with Oakland.

“We hope going forward that city leaders will be more wary of large corporations coming into our town, and will push big businesses — including whoever buys this building from Uber – to help build an Oakland that’s diverse and affordable for working families, nonprofits and the arts community.”

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute

greenlining.org
@Greenlining

Climate justice group: California must protect vulnerable communities

Poll shows voters of color back climate action

Contact:
Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute, 510-926- 4022/415-846- 7758
Ernesto Arevalo, Communities for a Better Environment, 510-910- 5123
Veronica Garibay, Leadership Council for Justice and & Accountability, 559-393-3617

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA – Fourteen environmental justice, public health
and climate equity organizations are calling on the state of California to make
sure its plan for adapting to climate change addresses the needs of frontline
communities that suffer first and worst. The Climate Justice Working Group
(CJWG), supported by Resources Legacy Fund, released a series of guiding
principles and recommendations for funding and policy decisions, along with
results of a recent survey of California voters of color indicating that these
voters overwhelmingly favor stronger government action to help their
communities prepare for climate change impacts.

AB 398, the cap-and- trade extension recently signed by Gov. Brown,
designates “climate adaptation and resiliency” as a priority that must receive
funding from cap-and- trade revenue. An Assembly Budget Committee
hearing Aug. 23 will begin the process of determining how these funds will be
spent.

In “Advancing Climate Justice in California,” CJWG emphasizes that frontline
communities – including people of color, immigrants, people with lower
incomes, those in rural areas and indigenous people – already suffer more
from socioeconomic, health, and environmental injustices and have fewer
resources to prepare for and recover from environmental impacts caused by
climate change. These communities have been largely excluded from policy
and funding decisions and processes.

CJWG recommends that the state do more to include the voices of frontline
communities in its planning, and focus both funding and planning on
protection of essential facilities that provide health care, food and emergency
shelter; bringing economic opportunities into these most vulnerable
communities; and avoiding negative consequences such as displacement.
CJWG points to the need for California to assess the vulnerability of its
regions, looking at the many factors that could come into play, and use these
assessments inform plans to build climate resilience in frontline communities
by 2020. In addition, the state should identify and invest at least $1 billion
by 2020 and $10 billion by 2025 to accomplish this climate resilience.

We need more spaces where frontline communities provide a roadmap for
what is needed to achieve a sustainable, just and prosperous future. AB 398
left out these voices from the conversation, and, even with a well-intended
inclusion of investment, does not assist refinery communities in their ability
to adapt. In fact, AB 398 directly preempts local frontline communities from
carrying out our pollution prevention plans. More genuine interactions are
needed to protect lives, and that is why we are calling on state leaders to
center the voices and needs of frontline communities in their climate
resilience funding and policy decisions,” said Ernesto Arevalo of Communities
for a Better Environment, co-chair of CJWG.

“Environmental justice communities throughout the state bear a
disproportionate share of the harmful impacts of longstanding policy priorities
and investment practices. The result: unhealthy, unsafe environments that
cut short our lives. This is a critical time to confront both challenges and
opportunities posed by climate change in a way that prioritizes the needs of
communities most often left behind,” said Veronica Garibay of Leadership
Counsel for Justice and Accountability, co-chair of CJWG.

The survey of 800 California voters of color conducted by EMC Research for
Resources Legacy Fund found that two thirds believe that the effects of
climate changes have already started, and 85 percent want state and local
officials to adopt stronger policies to help their communities prepare for
these impacts.

  • Climate Justice Working Group members include:
  • Amee Raval, Asian Pacific Environmental Network
  • Sarah de Guia, California Pan-Ethnic Health Network
  • Caroline Farrell, Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment
  • Lucas Zucker, Central Coast Alliance for a Sustainable Economy
  • Janaki Jagannath, Community Alliance for Agroecology
  • Ernesto Arevalo, Communities for a Better Environment
  • Alvaro Sanchez and Sona Mohnot, Greenlining Institute
  • Eleanor Torres, Incredible Edible Community Garden
  • Veronica Garibay, Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability
  • Martha Arguello, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Los Angeles
  • Chione Flegal and Erika Rincon Whitcomb, PolicyLink
  • Ari Neumann, Rural Community Assistance Corporation
  • Gloria Walton, Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education (SCOPE)
  • Anya Lawler, Western Center on Law &Poverty

Art Exhibit Inspired by Black Panthers’ Legacy Now Open at Greenlining 360 Center, Oakland 


”The Eighth Fire” Channels Afro-Indigenous Art and Thought

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 510-926-4022415-846-7758 (cell)

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – “The Eighth Fire,” described by as “a prophetic collaborative experience of 3 multimedia artists channeling the roots of Afro Indigenous thought and art” and inspired by the legacy of the Black Panther Party, is now open at the Greenlining 360 Center in downtown Oakland. The exhibit, co-curated by artists Camille Safiya and Tayyibah Hasan, is the latest part of The Greenlining Institute’s effort to make its space a center for activism, collaboration and art.

The exhibit will be open to the public every Tuesday from 3-7 p.m., from now through Sept. 12 at the Greenlining 360 Center at 360 14th Street in downtown Oakland.

“The Eighth Fire” features the work of three artists:

Camille Safiya is a visual/performance artist born in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City. She was born to an Afro-Indigenous tribe from the the Caribbean island of Quisqueya, aka the Dominican Republic. Her father’s Afro-Cuban drumming roots raised her around deep Yoruba culture which reflects throughout her work.

Tayyibah Hasan, an Oakland resident originally from Capital Heights, Maryland, works as a painter, curator, & expressive arts therapist in the Bay Area. As an artist and practitioner, Tayyibah honors the roots of a person as the site of creative manifestation.

Xiomara Grace, a Berkeley-born musician & artist who works to serve the people through activism and creative expression in the form of sonic, and visual Afro-surrealism. Her Afro-Latino, & Mexican roots drive her art.

“Art has long played vital role in activism, especially for communities of color,” said Greenlining Institute President Orson Aguilar. “Given the local reality of nonprofits and artists being displaced due to gentrification and soaring rents, we’re proud to host the work of local diverse artist activists and give them exposure to the broader Oakland public, beyond the hundreds who visit our building every week for events and meetings.”

WHAT: “The Eighth Fire” exhibit

WHERE: The Greenlining 360 Center, 360 14th Street, Oakland

WHEN: Every Tuesday3-7 p.m., now through Sept. 12

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute

greenlining.org
@Greenlining

Just-Approved VW Diesel Plan a Step Forward for Disadvantaged Communities, More Needed

Contact:
Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 415-846-7758 (cell)
Joel Espino, Greenlining Institute Environmental Equity Legal Counsel, 623-330-1995 (cell)

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA – The Greenlining Institute today supported the California Air Resources Board’s approval of a clean vehicle investment plan stemming from a settlement to address the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Greenlining has been critical of the plan, as it falls short of prioritizing meaningful investment in the state’s most polluted low-income communities of color, but updates to the plan have eased some of these concerns.

“Because low-income communities of color are most likely to live near busy roads and freeways, the health of these communities took the biggest hit from VW’s emissions cheating,” said Greenlining Institute Environmental Equity Legal Counsel Joel Espino. “We’re glad that VW has updated its plan to make clear that it will work toward major investments in electric vehicle infrastructure, access and awareness in the communities that need it most. But we look forward to actions because they speak louder than words.”

Under the Zero Emission Vehicle Investment Plan, to be implemented by its subsidiary Electrify America, VW will invest $800 million over 10 years in clean vehicle access, infrastructure and awareness. With some progress on commitments to underserved communities, Greenlining and a variety of environmental and public health organizations supported the plan.

“While we’re pleased with today’s decision, VW’s breach of trust with Californians requires CARB and community groups to keep a close watch on implementation,” Espino said. “We and others will keep pushing for strong CARB and stakeholder engagement to ensure that Electrify America rolls out its investments in a way that maximizes benefits to California’s poorest and most polluted communities.”