To say we’re disappointed in the California State Assembly for holding AB 2535 in the Assembly Appropriations Committee is a profound understatement. The Invest in Clean Air Act, championed by Assemblymember Bonta, would have ensured state transportation funding is invested in sustainable transportation infrastructure, providing cleaner air for those most impacted by pollution.

California’s communities deserve cleaner air and the only way to achieve this is through intentional actions that modernize our transportation system. We cannot afford to continue fueling negative health outcomes and climate catastrophes in our neighborhoods by investing in infrastructure that we know will create more pollution instead of lessening it. This bill represented an essential first step towards shifting investments away from polluting, ineffective highway widening projects and toward sustainable infrastructure and electric rail projects in the state’s most over-polluted and vulnerable areas—all while maintaining and improving the efficacy of freight system investments.

The worst consequences of excessive pollution fall on communities of color and low-income communities that have faced decades of redlining and disinvestment, and were targeted for the development of highways and polluting infrastructure. Beyond moving the state towards a more sustainable transportation system for all, this bill would have addressed the environmental inequity marginalized communities in California continue to face as a result of these injustices. Legislative and executive inaction and protection of the status quo continue to feed harmful cycles of disinvestment, displacement, asthma, and cancer-causing pollution in our state’s most vulnerable communities.

Advancing California’s climate and environmental justice goals demands bold action, and we firmly believe that we can reduce pollution while creating jobs and economic development opportunities. A cleaner, safer transportation system will benefit all Californians—and is within reach with minimal trade-offs thanks to a transportation budget that remains, in spite of general fund revenue headwinds, at an all-time high. Redirecting these critical funds away from harmful transportation infrastructure towards infrastructure that is more sustainable and beneficial to our communities is essential to build a more just transportation system.

It’s time to prioritize people over fossil fuel and asphalt industry profits to ensure a sustainable future for everyone. We’re grateful for Assemblymember Bonta’s bold leadership and urge her colleagues to reimagine what is possible for our state.