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:

  1. Send more money to disadvantaged communities: Right now, 10 percent of fees paid by polluters must go to projects located in “disadvantaged communities” – the neighborhoods with the most poverty and worst pollution. AB 1550 will increase that to 25 percent. According to the state of California, one quarter of our population lives in disadvantaged communities, so it’s only fair that those communities get one quarter of the money available to help clean their air and put people to work in the growing clean energy economy, especially since they are the families that have born the burden of pollution that comes from the use of fossil fuels.
  2. Help low-income families anywhere in California: This represents a huge step forward. Current law sends some money from polluters to disadvantaged communities (see point 1), however it doesn’t solve the problem of benefiting low-income Californians who happen to live in neighborhoods outside “disadvantaged communities.” Under AB 1550, that will change, with an additional 25 percent of polluter fees going to projects that benefit low-income Californians, wherever in our state they happen to live. That’s important because low-income Californians often lack adequate transportation choices, spend a large percentage of their household budgets on necessities like energy, and are least able to relocate or to be able to afford energy-saving appliances, low-pollution vehicles (like electric cars), and household improvements to save energy or adapt to our changing climate. Helping low-income families do these things will mean big gains for our fight against pollution and climate change while making millions of lives better.

AB 1550 just passed its first committee, but still has a long legislative road to travel.  We’d like to keep you up to date on the bill’s progress and how you can help. If you haven’t signed up to receive Greenlining’s email updates, please join our email list here (the simple sign-up form is on the right).  You can also follow Greenlining on Twitter: @Greenlining. Finaly, we’ve also created a special site specifically focused on California’s climate policies, UpLift California, and you can sign up here for alerts specifically focused on these policies.

California is creating a national model for how to use money from polluting industries to fight against climate change and uplift our most undeserved communities.  Please join our effort to preserve and improve these policies.

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