May 5-6 Racial Equity Summit Features “Caste” Author Isabel Wilkerson, Alicia Garza, Michael Tubbs, Manuel Pastor & More

Greenlining Institute Virtual Summit Expands to Two Days of Programming 

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

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – With recent events propelling racial equity to the top of the national agenda, The Greenlining Institute’s annual Economic Summit will bring together an array of world-changing advocates and thinkers to examine where we stand and what possibilities lie ahead. Momentum: A Virtual Summit on Racial Equity expands to two days of online programming, May 5 and 6.

The keynote speaker will be Isabel Wilkerson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the bestselling books Caste and The Warmth of Other Suns. After her talk, Wilkerson will engage in an in-depth discussion with Alexis Madrigal, staff writer at The Atlantic and co-founder of the COVID Tracking Project.

In a year that has brought both a renewed sense of hope but also extraordinary challenges, Manuel Pastor, Professor of Sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California, will join New Georgia Project Chief Executive Officer Nsé Ufot for a fireside chat highlighting the extraordinary efforts of Georgia voting rights organizers and, the enormous power our movements have built, and the continuing threats to the right to vote.

In another timely session, Black Lives Matter co-creator Alicia Garza will join Cat Brooks, co-founder of Oakland’s Anti Police-Terror Project, Alex Tom of the Center for Empowered Politics and Dulce Garcia of Border Angels to discuss how we can sustain and grow multi-issue and multi-racial organizing efforts to address the crisis in policing, the rise in anti-Asian violence, and broken immigration policies.

On the Summit’s closing day, Michael Tubbs, Special Advisor for Economic Mobility and Opportunity to California Governor Gavin Newsom — who as Mayor of Stockton pioneered that city’s guaranteed basic income program — will join PolicyLink Founder in Residence Angela Glover Blackwell to examine how we can reimagine a society that is truly built upon principles of justice and equity, moving beyond incremental reforms to dream big and lay the groundwork for real transformation of our systems.

Additional panels and discussions will examine a wide variety of issues, from algorithmic bias to reparations and the growing movement to eliminate use of fossil fuels from homes and other buildings. There will also be music, interactive opportunities and an Expo. Tickets are available through 11 a.m. on May 6.

Members of the media wishing to attend should email Bruce Mirken as soon as possible at for a complimentary pass.

To learn more about The Greenlining Institute, visit


A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute

‘Let This Be a Turning Point’: Chauvin Conviction Sparks Calls for ‘True Justice’

Common Dreams

This is accountability, but not justice.

That was the widely shared sentiment contained in a tidal wave of reaction Tuesday after a jury in Minnesota found Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, guilty of murdering George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, in Minneapolis last year.

Chauvin was charged with second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. He will be sentenced in eight weeks. His conviction follows more recent instances of police violence that have sparked outrage.

Floyd’s death led to a global wave of protests demanding racial justice, an end to police brutality—particularly against people of color—and sweeping reforms in law enforcement. The verdict Tuesday prompted more demonstrations and calls for deep and lasting change from a diverse range of racial justice campaigners, progressive advocacy groups, and elected officials.

What follows is just a small selection of those comments and perspectives:

Center for Constitutional Rights:

“Despite today’s guilty verdict, true justice for George Floyd and the other Black lives snuffed out by police has yet to be done… Derek Chauvin will now serve a penalty for acts deemed exceptional. But his behavior was not exceptional, and treating George Floyd’s murder as a consequence of extraordinary acts neither protects Black people nor captures the unreformable depravity of our system of policing. His murder is the predictable outcome of policing’s origin in slave patrols and the ongoing, constant threat to Black people of arrest, incarceration, violence, and death.”

Communications Workers of America:

“Today’s verdict finding Derek Chauvin guilty of the murder of George Floyd is a step toward justice for Floyd, his family members, and all those who have been affected by his brutal murder. But it is not enough. As we have seen in the past few weeks, the threat of police violence continues to be a constant presence in the lives of Black and Brown people in our country. We’ve heard all the pretexts and excuses and promises to do better, but the fact remains that there has been no reduction in the racial disparity in fatal police shootings over the past five years.”

Vera Institute of Justice:

“The verdict is an important step toward police accountability for a brutal act of violence. While the outcome of this trial was just, it won’t bring George Floyd back, lessen the suffering of his family, or keep our communities safe from racism and police violence. A system rooted in racism and white supremacy won’t deliver the accountability or safety we deserve. There is more work to do.”

Lindsey Allen, Greenpeace USA:

“While this is a milestone, there is so much more work to be done to dismantle white supremacy and overhaul the systems that allow for racist police and vigilante violence against Black and Brown people in the first place… The verdict falling during the week of Earth Day connects our movements in protest and reminds us that there is no climate justice without racial justice. As an environmental community, we must speak out in the face of white supremacy, systemic injustice, and their fatal consequences. Fighting for a green and peaceful future includes speaking out against the unjust, racist, and systemic violence facing Black people in the U.S.”

Stosh Cotler, Bend the Arc: Jewish Action:

“Derek Chauvin will still have his life, while the families of George Floyd, Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo, and so many others continue to mourn… We rise in solidarity with Black and brown people—including Jews of color—resisting in the Twin Cities, in Brooklyn Center, in our Jewish communities, and across the country. At the same time, Republican-led state legislatures across the country are moving forward legislation that would criminalize Black and brown-led protest, from the recently passed H.B. 1 in Florida to bills introduced in Minnesota just this month. We condemn these anti-democratic measures and call on leaders and elected officials to protect the rights of protesters.”

Abigail Dillen, Earthjustice:

“This conviction must mark the beginning of true change in our country, where the criminal justice system has consistently failed to hold police officers accountable for the unwarranted killings and brutality that have disproportionately taken the lives of Black people and other people of color in traumatized communities… Although today’s verdict marks an important step forward, we call on leadership at every level of government to advance urgently needed policing reforms that bring about true racial justice and equality.”

Rahna Epting, MoveOn:

“The Derek Chauvin verdict is a welcome measure of accountability. Yet, the truth is that Chauvin being convicted for killing George Floyd is, unfortunately, the exception in this country, not the rule. In order to truly achieve justice, we must fundamentally transform public safety. We must reimagine a society that truly protects and takes care of one another, and treats one another with dignity and respect. And we certainly must ensure that no police officer ever again is empowered to brutally inflict harm upon anyone and callously take their life.”

Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, Lawyers for Civil Rights:

“No one is above the law. Yet time and time again, officers engaging in unlawful misconduct are spared from legal consequences simply because they are part of law enforcement. At LCR, we are committed to bringing civil rights lawsuits on behalf of people of color affected by police misconduct. Today, we call on prosecutors to similarly do their part by holding police officers responsible for misconduct. Prosecutors across the nation—including here in Massachusetts—must stop shielding officers who act beyond the bounds of their authority and rain violence upon communities of color. Prosecutors must track, expose, and prosecute officers and police departments that engage in brutality, racial profiling, and other civil rights violations.”

Kassandra Frederique, Drug Policy Alliance:

“Over the course of the trial, the defense brought in one witness after another not to prove Derek Chauvin didn’t kill George Floyd, but instead to prove that George Floyd was under the influence of drugs at the time of his death and in previous law enforcement encounters… This verdict, for once, gives us hope that the days of this excuse still working are numbered. But the fight is not over. Make no mistake, this will happen again and there will be other officers who try to escape all accountability. We must work to end the drug war, so that drugs can never again be used as an excuse to rob people of their dignity, their humanity, or their lives.”

George Goehl and Bree Carlson, People’s Action:

“No verdict will bring George Floyd back, or deliver justice to his family and others who have suffered state-sanctioned police violence. Today, we breathe a sigh of relief as the Floyd family and the people of Minneapolis are offered some shred of accountability. We have a long road ahead, and we know that convicting one guilty person cannot bring justice for generations of oppression. True justice begins with defunding the Minneapolis police department and diverting that funding to programs to make communities healthy and whole, and it will be complete only when our country finally and permanently ends state-sanctioned murders of Black people.”

John Gordon, ACLU of Minnesota:

“While this verdict brings a certain rare form of accountability for police, achieving this outcome for Mr. Floyd is only one step in addressing police abuse of power, disparate treatment, and excessive force against Black and Brown communities. We still must radically change policing in Minnesota and across the country, increase accountability and transparency, and create policies that combat racism in policing. The jury’s decision to convict Derek Chauvin does not negate the fact that Mr. Floyd’s tragic murder is part of a horrifying local and national pattern of officers using excessive force against people of color.”

Debra Gore-Mann, Greenlining Institute:

“Today we experienced a small measure of justice… But we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking that one conviction of one cop for a killing the whole world witnessed on video will change a fundamentally racist and dysfunctional system. The whole law enforcement system must be rethought and rebuilt from the ground up so that there are no more George Floyds, Daunte Wrights, and Adam Toledos. But even that is just a start. Policing doesn’t operate in a vacuum. Systemic racism exists in policing because systemic racism exists in America. We must fundamentally uproot the disease of racism in our society and create a transformative path forward.”

Massachusetts AG Maura Healey and Nevada AG Aaron Ford, Democratic Attorneys General Association:

“Today, there was accountability for George Floyd’s murder. But the work for justice continues… Today, we recommit to working to end the injustice of police killings without consequence—disproportionately affecting Black, Brown and other communities and families of color. We applaud our colleague AG Keith Ellison and his team for their leadership and commitment to justice for George Floyd and his family. To those marching in the streets for continued justice and progress, know that we stand with you in the fight for reforms, and are working to make sure systemic change happens at the state and federal level.”

Shanene Herbert, the American Friends Service Committee’s Healing Justice program in Saint Paul:

“The brutal murder of George Floyd is the consequence of a racist system that disproportionately targets people of color for violence, imprisonment, and premature death… No matter the outcome of the trial, young people of color are living every day with the ongoing trauma of police violence, the militarization of our cities, tear gas invading their homes, and brutality against protestors. Instead of this constant dehumanization, we need resources to help us heal and rebuild the beloved community we all deserve.”

Margaret Huang, Southern Poverty Law Center:

“Today’s verdict is an acknowledgement that police officers cannot get away with murder, but we still have a long way to go to achieve the justice demanded by so many protesters in the last year… The fact that justice was done in this case cannot allow us to forget about the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Dion Johnson, among many others. But this case galvanized a movement for justice that has expanded across the country, rooted in longstanding demands for a reimagining of a criminal legal system built on anti-Black racism and white supremacy. Lawmakers at the state and federal level must begin holding officers accountable for police violence.”

Farhana Khera, Muslim Advocates:

“The jury’s guilty verdict is a long-overdue measure of justice for the Floyd family… Now, all the other officers involved in Floyd’s killing must also be held accountable. And we must hold accountable all the other officers involved in the killings of Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo, Breonna Taylor, Muhammad Muhaymin, Jr. and the many, many other Black people and people of color who have been harmed and killed by the police. Further, we must all take drastic, immediate action to overhaul the law enforcement and justice systems that have allowed this violence to continue for so long.”

Karissa Lewis, Movement for Black Lives:

“George Floyd should still be alive, full stop. Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict doesn’t fix an irredeemable, racist system of policing rooted in white supremacy that will continue working against and harming Black people just as designed… This repeat cycle of police killings, trials, and no real substantive systemic change has to stop. Now is the time for a complete reimagining of public safety in the United States, so that no more fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, children, siblings or loved ones are lost to the hands of state violence.”

Miski Noor, Black Visions:

“We know that true justice would be served only if George was still here with his family, loved ones, and community. We believe in a world where Black people don’t have to feel this pain and wonder why these things keep happening… It is both individuals and institutions that bear responsibility for the loss of George’ s life and the pain his family experiences, so we feel a guilty verdict is an important step for the community and we know that Chauvin is not the exception but the rule. No one conviction, training, or reform can interrupt the rotten foundation of the institution of police and policing.”

Becky Pringle, National Education Association:

“While the jury reached the right decision and did in fact convict former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin of George Floyd’s murder, we are again joining together to make sure all of us feel safe in our schools, neighborhoods, and communities… As the one-year mark of George Floyd’s murder approaches, we must continue to come together to demand accountability and justice for all and to demand that our elected leaders—especially those who have taken an oath to serve and protect us—to respect our rights, no matter our race, background, or where we live.”

Roxana Rivera, 32BJ:

“As a union representing mostly Black and Brown workers, our members cannot escape a dangerous reality that they too could become a victim of police brutality, even as they risk their own lives keeping us safe on the frontlines as essential workers who clean and secure buildings. Many must travel to and from work during off-hours and fear being harassed and brutalized by the police… We must ensure this ruling signals an end to the cycle of violence against our Black and Brown communities, and the beginning of long overdue reform of our broken policing and criminal justice systems.”

Rashad Robinson, Color of Change:

“Nine minutes and 29 seconds will forever be supplanted in our hearts and memory. Now we must look at the road ahead. Our fight for racial justice continues as we fight to fundamentally alter a system that continues to threaten, harm, and kill Black people. So we use this moment to push for real change because the fight for accountability and justice in America is far from over. The Chauvin trial may be over, but what comes next will be the consequential moment in our history. We need to do more than raise our voices; we must demand action now… Color of Change is all in for the fight for justice and will continue to advocate for systemic change.”

Kristina Roth, Amnesty International USA:

“Of course, true justice for George Floyd would require him to still be alive… Not only did Derek Chauvin deny George Floyd his human rights, he also showed utter disregard for George Floyd’s humanity. We must acknowledge the racist roots of law enforcement in this country if we are to address the systemic failures of policing and bring about meaningful public safety for those that have been historically overpoliced. This must include shrinking the size and scope of law enforcement in daily life, eliminating qualified immunity that creates a barrier to redress for victims of unlawful policing, demilitarizing law enforcement, and enacting strict limits on the use of force altogether.”

Linda Sarsour, MPower Change:

“Today’s verdict might come as a relief, but to act in solidarity with Black communities, we must remember that it is decidedly the exception, not the rule. And we must continue to take action in honor of the life of George Floyd, and all lives lost to white supremacy, policing, and incarceration by fighting for a world without these roots of injustice.”

Lee Saunders, AFSCME:

“We cannot let today’s verdict allow us to become complacent about the challenges we face. We have to do better. Black people in America are exhausted with fear and anxiety every single day. Today’s verdict is appropriate punishment for a single crime. But to honor the memory of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Adam Toledo, and so many others whose only ‘crime’ was being Black, we must work with greater effort and urgency than ever to bend the arc toward racial justice.”

Shari Silberstein, Equal Justice USA:

“Today, so many people are exhaling with relief for the thousands who cannot: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Duante Wright, Adam Toledo, and so many more. A legal system that has been over-applied to Black and brown people and dramatically under-applied to law enforcement has now convicted one police officer. The verdict is deeply meaningful for being so rare. But we cannot mistake this for a transformative moment. We still pour billions more dollars into policing than into proven health-based violence prevention. Black people are still not safe when they’re pulled over, jogging, even surrendering. And our nation has not been accountable to the harm of centuries of racist policies embedded in our justice system and far beyond it.”

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.):

“While today’s conviction is a necessary condition of justice, it is not sufficient. For centuries, Black people have faced violence at the hands of the state in our country. For centuries, systemic inequalities in the form of housing, income, education, and criminal justice have plagued our country—holding us back from our creed of liberty and justice for all. Let this be a turning point, where we finally create a society that reflects the belief that all men and women are created equal. Let this be the moment where we implement a broad anti-racist agenda to root out the inequalities that continue to plague us.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.):

“The jury’s verdict delivers accountability for Derek Chauvin, but not justice for George Floyd. Real justice for him and too many others can only happen when we build a nation that fundamentally respects the human dignity of every person. The trauma and tragedy of George Floyd’s murder must never leave us. It was a manifestation of a system that callously devalues the lives of Black people. Our struggle now is about justice—not justice on paper, but real justice in which all Americans live their lives free of oppression. We must boldly root out the cancer of systemic racism and police violence against people of color.”

Ohio congressional candidate Nina Turner (D):

“This needs to be a turning point for America. It does not end here—far from it, but it’s a damn good feeling to exhale and feel that some semblance of justice was served. My heart is with the Floyd family. If you ever doubt the power of movements, please remember today.”

Chauvin Trial Shows Need for Broad Focus on Systemic Racism

Officer’s Conviction Necessary but Not Sufficient, Greenlining Institute Says 

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

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – In response to the announcement of the conviction of former police officer Derek Chauvin on all three counts in the killing of George Floyd, Greenlining Institute President and CEO Debra Gore-Mann released the following statement:

“Today we experienced a small measure of justice as Derek Chauvin was convicted and the killing of George Floyd was recognized as the criminal act it was. But we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking that one conviction of one cop for a killing the whole world witnessed on video will change a fundamentally racist and dysfunctional system. The whole law enforcement system must be rethought and rebuilt from the ground up so that there are no more George Floyds, Daunte Wrights and Adam Toledos. But even that is just a start.

“Policing doesn’t operate in a vacuum. Systemic racism exists in policing because systemic racism exists in America. We must fundamentally uproot the disease of racism in our society and create a transformative path forward.”

To learn more about The Greenlining Institute, visit


THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE works toward a future when communities of color can build wealth, live in healthy places filled with economic opportunity, and are ready to meet the challenges posed by climate change.

As Biden Pushes Clean Mobility, New Report Examines Long-Term Funding Issues

Urges Sustainable, Equitable Support for Pioneering Programs 

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

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – California has an array of pioneering programs aimed at promoting clean mobility in a way that also enhances racial/economic equity – issues that have just been highlighted by President Biden’s infrastructure plan. But to truly make a difference, such programs need long-term, stable funding, a new report from The Greenlining Institute argues.

The new report, Sustaining Clean Mobility Equity Programs, seeks to answer a critical question: How do we take these small, pilot projects and reliably fund them and bring them to scale, even after any hoped-for federal help runs out? And how do we fund them equitably, without burdening the very communities they seek to help?

The report looks at specific funding strategies that can be used by any state or community, from congestion pricing and road charging to taxing ride-hailing companies, user fees, advertising and sponsorships, weighing their advantages and disadvantages. It also highlights how to deploy other strategies to strengthen and stabilize equitable clean mobility programs, including community partnerships and improvements to the way governments administer grants.

“Many of these California pilot programs have been exclusively funded through the state’s cap-and-trade system, but that mechanism has significant drawbacks,” said report author Hana Creger, Greenlining’s Climate Equity Senior Program Manager. “Low-income, disadvantaged communities and communities of color need clean mobility, and that means identifying stable, equitable funding that allows these programs to grow. And we first need to prioritize the development of community vision, priorities and partnerships so that we can sustain these programs over the long haul.”

To learn more about The Greenlining Institute, visit


THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE works toward a future when communities of color can build wealth, live in healthy places filled with economic opportunity, and are ready to meet the challenges posed by climate change.

Gas heat and stoves are warming the climate. Should cities start banning them?

By Alejandro Borunda
National Geographic

In the summer of 2019, the city council in Berkeley, California, made a bold and unprecedented move: They banned natural gas hookups in most new building construction.

Councilwoman Kate Harrison, who sponsored the new ordinance, had been on a hunt for ways to reduce the city’s carbon emissions. “We looked at where our emissions were coming from and found that natural gas in buildings played a significant role,” she says—they accounted for a whopping 37 percent of the city’s total. Cars are another big source, but the city has no authority to regulate tailpipe emissions. But buildings? “This is an area we can tackle,” Harrison says.

Berkeley’s pioneering ordinance spurred a wave of similar efforts. Since 2019, more than 40 cities in California have passed similar measures. Proposals to ban gas hookups are now under consideration in Colorado, Washington State, and Massachusetts.

Climate experts have long said that buildings old and new will need to wean themselves off fossil fuels. Today, buildings account for more than a quarter of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions—a number that will have to drop rapidly if the country hopes to hit the emissions reductions goals outlined in the Paris Agreement.

But the growing movement to restrict natural gas hookups has also unleashed an aggressive campaign by the natural gas industry to preemptively ban the bans.

The American Gas Association, an industry trade group, vowed in an email statement to “absolutely oppose any effort to ban natural gas or sideline our infrastructure anywhere the effort materializes, state house or city [hall] steps.” So far, six states, including Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Utah, have passed legislation forbidding such bans. Similar legislation is being considered in 14 other states.

Buildings are carbon hogs

Because buildings use so much energy, they have the potential to be a big part of any solution to the climate crisis.

The 95 million residential and commercial buildings in the United States account for about 28 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. Two-thirds of that total are “indirect emissions”—the carbon actually comes out of the stacks at power plants that generate the electricity used for the buildings’ lighting, air conditioning, and electric heating. The remaining 12 percent—about as much as the entire country of Brazil or slightly more than all of Germany—are “direct emissions,” primarily from natural gas and heating oil burned in the buildings themselves to heat them and their water.

The challenge is to clean up both kinds of emissions. The U.S. electricity sector is already getting greener: Its emissions have dropped by nearly 30 percent from a 2005 peak, largely as a result of renewable energy sources like wind and solar replacing coal and natural gas in power plants. That trend will only accelerate in coming years as more renewable energy sources come online.

To fully decarbonize the nation’s buildings, though, direct emissions will need to be addressed—and the best way, experts say, is to convert buildings to run only on electricity. If all new construction in the U.S. were built all-electric starting in 2022, the building sector’s overall emissions would drop by 11 percent by 2050, according to analyses from the Rocky Mountain Institute, a Colorado-based nonprofit that specializes in energy efficiency and sustainability issues.

RMI also found that retrofitting existing buildings with all electric components, starting in 2030, would push the sectors’ emissions down by 90 percent by 2050, says RMI’s Mike Henchen. In what may be the most ambitious effort to address building emissions, New York City passed a 2019 law requiring most of its bigger buildings, both commercial and residential, to reduce their emissions 40 percent by 2030. (The Empire State building has already hit that target.)

“We’re already very deep in the hole, and we can’t just keep digging it deeper,” says Sara Baldwin, a buildings expert at Energy Innovation, a climate and energy research center.

Natural gas losing ground

Natural gas was once marketed as a clean alternative to coal and oil, touted as a “bridge fuel” that could help reduce overall carbon emissions while still providing reliable, cheap energy. But its role in a lower-carbon future is now in question.

Natural gas is primarily made up of methane, or CH4, but when it is burned, it mostly converts to CO2, contributing—albeit less than coal- or oil-burning—to the long-term atmospheric buildup of that principal greenhouse gas. But on top of that, methane is itself an extraordinarily potent greenhouse gas, one that, in the decade or two it takes to convert naturally to CO2 in the atmosphere, is 84 times as good at trapping heat near Earth’s surface.

Thus when natural gas escapes from a leaky stove or from somewhere along the three million miles of pipeline that criss-cross the U.S., it can contribute powerfully to warming. Many of the lines along the vast distribution network are old and in need of maintenance or replacement. Some recent studies suggest that natural gas pipeline infrastructure is leaking up to five times more than previously estimated. Those leaks may have potentially dangerous health and safety as well as climate effects.

What’s more, since 2009, the costs of maintaining gas distribution systems has tripled, according to analysis from the Rocky Mountain Institute, and maintenance costs will likely to continue to rise. Those costs get passed along to consumers. In California, the state energy commission projects consumers could expect to pay more than double for their gas by 2050.

On average, one new natural gas customer gets hooked up every minute, the gas association said in a 2018 report. That means about 500,000 new hookups per year that could be avoided with electrification, says Baldwin.

“Once you build new homes, and put in natural gas pipes, people tend to stick with that,” says Ken Gillingham, an environmental and energy economist at Yale University.

“Taking [gas] away would have devastating impacts without the environmental benefits some claim,” the gas association warned in its emailed statement.

The revolution could be complicated

Today, one in four Americans lives in an all-electric home, mostly in the South, where air conditioning is more of a concern than heating. But all-electric construction is expanding in cooler climates, as installation and construction costs decline and technology improves. The performance of electric heat pumps has improved so much that Maine, which depends more on heating oil than any other state, passed a law in 2019 calling for heat pumps to be installed in 100,000 homes by 2025.

One of the most complicated challenges in converting from gas to all-electric is maintaining affordable utility costs. For example, 70 percent of residents of low-income communities are renters who could get slammed on several fronts. If their housing converts to all-electric, utility bills will go up if the renovation leaves out necessary changes like upgrading insulation or adding efficient appliances. Upgrading housing, in turn, can encourage gentrification, driving low-income people out of their neighborhoods. And in the long term, as more gas customers end their gas service, those who remain could find themselves saddled with larger bills, because the fixed costs of the distribution system are borne by a smaller pool of customers.

Personal preferences can also get in the way of the conversion to all-electric. “People get really emotional about their gas stoves,” says Fei Wang, a buildings expert at the energy analytics firm Wood Mackenzie. Some professional chefs in particular have expressed their love of gas flames— though others have embraced magnetic induction stoves, the vanguard of electric cooking technology. The California Restaurant Association sued the city of Berkeley six week before the new ordinance took effect last year, and some cities like Denver have specifically carved out exceptions so people can keep their stoves.

All of these issues contribute to slowing the transition off gas. Although local ordinances have the advantage of allowing cities to tailor their climate goals to their constituents’ willingness to accept change, the resulting patchwork move to all-electric isn’t happening fast enough, says Ted Lamm, an expert at U.C. Berkeley’s Center for Law, Energy, and the Environment.

The Washington State legislature is considering an ambitious bill to prevent fossil fuel use in new buildings after 2027, and California is in the process of updating building codes that will likely require all new construction to be “electric-ready” by 2023. But without more sweeping state or federal legislation, Lamm says, the pace will not pick up enough to achieve the benefits that all-electric promises.

“It’s great to iterate. It’s not so great when we have a very hard deadline on the other end that we need to meet,” he says, referring to the urgency of the climate problem. “It’s just not fast enough for what needs to happen.”

Baby steps

When Berkeley began considering its ban, the city had already been looking hard for new ways to shrink its carbon footprint. It had already installed LED light bulbs in the city’s 76,000 street lights and added bike paths and charging stations for electric vehicles. But it was far from hitting the emissions-reductions goals it had set for itself in 2009.

Harrison, the city council member, knew that the urgency to address the problem was only growing, as residents found their homes blanketed in smoke from climate-intensified wildfires and sweltering in record-breaking heat waves. After reviewing the city’s building code, council members concluded they could legally adjust it.

Harrison, who had already converted her own home to all-electric after her gas boiler failed, gave a demonstration of an induction stove to bolster the case for giving up gas. By July, the measure passed unanimously and with popular support, including from Pacific Gas & Electric, the nation’s fifth largest distributor of natural gas and electricity.

The new ordinance leaves for another day the question of how to get all of Berkeley’s existing buildings off gas. But to Wang, the Wood Mackenzie analyst, it’s much better than nothing.

“It doesn’t have to be everything,” she says. “Just start somewhere.”

Clean Mobility: An Evaluation of CA’s Equity Achievements – and Mistakes

By Melanie Curry

California has been investing a lot of money towards trying to shift the state’s transportation towards a system that contributes to the well-being of the planet and its people, rather than its headlong just-build-more-highways tradition of the last fifty years.

A key stated component of many of the state’s programs has been making sure they benefit everyone, not just those who can afford to take advantage of the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project, for example. That program offers CA residents a financial incentive for buying an electric or hybrid vehicle, but the price of an EV, even with an incentive, is out of range for many California residents.

And since low-income communities of color typically suffer from disproportionate air pollution and inadequate mobility options, focusing funding and program efforts on them not only is the right thing to do, it can benefit everyone. If done right, fighting climate change, cleaning up air quality, and providing more mobility choices can reduce traffic and car dependency, improve health outcomes, make communities better places to live and work, and help reduce the racial wealth gap.

And there’s a growing recognition that without doing all of this, the fight against climate change will go nowhere. “The evidence clearly shows that a clean transportation revolution will fail to adequately address climate change if it does nothing to wean us off of automobile dependency; fails to liberate us from traffic; continues to expand highways at the expense of walking, biking and public transit; and if we do not drastically reform the way that we fund transportation,” according to a new report from The Greenlining Institute, Clean Mobility Equity: A Playbook.

It’s all new territory. Many of California’s “clean mobility” programs are still in their pilot phases, in the midst of experimenting with innovative strategies. California has been trying out new ideas based on research and public input, but not so much on experience.

The Greenlining Institute’s report is focused on where these programs are working, where they need adjusting, and which should have major overhauls to help the state reach its goals. The information is meant both for California policymakers as well as decision makers in other states and the federal government. It’s an invitation to learn from California’s experience so far.

The report identifies ways California’s existing programs work well to improve equity, presenting these as “best practices” for other programs to follow. As an example, it’s important to take a “multi-sector” approach. This is because equity is integral to other goals, such as good health outcomes, and a holistic approach is the only way to efficiently meet all those goals. One best practice noted is to “require clean mobility programs to integrate approaches beyond greenhouse gas reduction, improved air quality or vehicle-miles-reduction” by considering things like “sustainable land-use patterns, use of vehicles during off times for community needs and emergency response, improved active transportation infrastructure, workforce development and quality jobs.”

Other best practices include requiring community-driven anti-displacement strategies; fund community capacity building and technical assistance; build off existing programs; streamline and coordinate outreach for overlapping programs, and target funding towards communities most harmed by systemic racism, and establish paths towards wealth-building.

These are all things that California is doing, or trying to do, with spotty success.

The report makes three basic recommendations derived from its analysis. First, scale up programs that are working to increase equity and are led by communities, such as the Sustainable Transportation Equity Project. Second, coordinate and standardize programs to avoid duplication, and target funding towards those who need it most. For example, the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project “has allocated hundreds of millions of dollars over the years, yet it disproportionately benefits middle and higher-income white people. Our limited federal and state funds should instead be designated for more equitable programs like Clean Cars 4 All and the Clean Vehicle Assistance Program that are designed to reduce transportation disparities, not widen them.”

A third recommendation from the report is to phase out programs that entrench dependency on single-occupancy vehicles.

California has disproportionately funneled dollars into the programs that subsidize electric vehicle purchases—yet this is not sufficient to solve the climate crisis. Governments at all levels should still continue to facilitate a transition to vehicle electrification focusing on the people who face the most barriers to access, but in the long run must foster policies that reduce congestion, vehicle trips and unsustainable land use patterns. While some regions are indeed inherently more car dependent, in these areas state and federal funds should fund programs that reduce the need for costly car ownership, such as Our Community CarShare, Green Raiteros, Ecosystem of Shared Mobility, the Agricultural Workers Vanpool Project, the Rural School Bus Pilot, and more.

But this is just the beginning. The report details Greenlining’s standards for equitable investments, and then analyzes 21 state programs. They include the Air Resources Board’s Sustainable Transportation Equity Project, the Clean Mobility Options Voucher Pilot Program, car-sharing at affordable housing, community car-share, the Agricultural Workers Vanpool Project, the California Energy Commission’s School Bus Replacement Program, and the community-owned mobility project, Green Raiteros.

Recommendations include: incorporate a vehicle purchase price cap in the EV incentives program; clarify and reduce the tax consequences for low-income households of receiving a voucher; allow all participants in Clean Cars 4 All to opt for a voucher for a “mobility option” such as an e-bike or transit pass (only one region has introduced the e-bike option so far).

The report concludes:

The case studies included within this equity evaluation are innovative, exciting programs and many had never been tried before. As with most pilot projects, things have not always run smoothly—understandably there have been delays, missteps and, most importantly, lessons learned. Yet this experimentation has allowed program administrators, advocates and other stakeholders to continuously evolve our understanding of how to develop and deploy clean mobility programs that truly center equity.

After centuries of injustice, society owes it to low-income communities of color to eliminate the programs that are not delivering on equity, improve existing ones, and allocate more funding to the most equitable programs. However it is critical to think in the long term to sustain the most equitable clean mobility programs past the pilot phase. To get there, we will need comprehensive strategies to secure long-term funding mechanisms and to cultivate community capacity.

New Report Highlights Medical Debt Crisis & Solutions

Top Cause of U.S. Bankruptcies, Worsened by COVID, Hits Communities of Color Hardest 

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

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – Medical debt, long the leading cause of U.S. bankruptcies, has been greatly worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic – but the problem is solvable according to a new Greenlining Institute report, Solving the Medical Debt Crisis.

Even before the pandemic – which cost over five million Americans their employee health coverage as many ran up unexpected medical and hospital bills – medical debt caused approximately 62% of bankruptcies. And its impact was not distributed equally, Greenlining’s analysis shows: Nationally, about one third of Black adults have past-due medical debt, compared to less than a quarter of Whites. In California, people of color are more than half again as likely as Whites to have some sort of past-due debt in collections.

As bad as the problem is, Greenlining concludes that state and national actions could go a long way to solving it.

“Medical debt is a crisis, but it’s fixable,” said report author Brianna Wells, Greenlining’s Health Equity Fellow. “Health care systems and the federal and state governments can and should act to remove this crushing burden from millions of American families.”

Key policy recommendations include:

• Expand comprehensive financial assistance policies for all large, for-profit health care facilities, including ambulatory surgical centers and outpatient clinics.

• End the practice of turning over medical debt to third-party collection agencies and prohibit such agencies from reporting medical debt to credit reporting bureaus.

• Mandate public reporting of debt collection practices by healthcare providers.

• Center medical debt elimination as a part of California’s COVID-19 recovery package via measures such as the proposed COVID-19 Medical Debt Collection Relief Act, which would suspend the collection of medical debt retroactively from February 1, 2020 until the “end of the public health emergency” and ban wage garnishment and bank account seizure.

• Cancel medical debt outright. The government can purchase medical debt from debt collectors and health care providers at discounted rates, aiding consumers while avoiding a financial windfall for debt collectors.

• Incorporate debt cancellation into California’s larger strategy toward reparations for racial injustice. Closing the racial wealth gap by addressing debt (including medical debt) in California requires a reparations package for the Black community.

To learn more about The Greenlining Institute, visit


THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE works toward a future when communities of color can build wealth, live in healthy places filled with economic opportunity, and are ready to meet the challenges posed by climate change.

5 Organizations Empowering Marginalized Communities In California

California is home to a very diverse population, with a significant number of residents who are underrepresented by our present forms of social organization. This list, presented in no particular order, highlights some institutions working to improve the lives of marginalized populations in the Golden State.

Read the full article here.

New Report: California’s Clean Mobility Programs Can Guide National Efforts

Mobility Equity Can Drive Progress in Underserved Communities 

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

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – As the Biden administration advances ambitious proposals to spur the transition to electric vehicles and promote clean transportation and environmental justice, The Greenlining Institute has released a detailed examination of California’s pioneering programs aimed at similar goals: Clean Mobility Equity: A Playbook. California’s experiences could provide lessons for the rest of the country.

As Caltrans recently acknowledged, past transportation projects divided and harmed communities of color and low-income neighborhoods. In recent years the state has launched a variety of pilot programs designed to promote both clean mobility and racial/economic equity, hoping to fight climate change while beginning to right some past wrongs. These programs, ranging from clean vehicle purchase assistance to a low-emissions vanpool program for agricultural workers and other forms of electric shared mobility, represent the future of mobility both in California and nationwide.

“Clean mobility can do more than just fight climate change,” noted Hana Creger, lead author of the report. “It can build community and create new opportunities in the neighborhoods that for too long have had the least. The Biden administration should look at California’s example and copy what works.”

Greenlining conducted a detailed equity evaluation of a dozen of these pilot programs based on the organization’s Six Standards of Equitable Investment – standards emphasizing that programs need to be driven by community-identified needs and provide intentional benefits to underserved communities.

In addition to specific suggestions for the individual programs, Creger and her co-authors created a broad set of recommendations for policymakers in California and throughout the U.S. who seek to build a clean transportation system that truly serves all communities. Key recommendations include:

  • Overall, public funds from states and the federal government should be vastly increased and prioritized to improve access to clean mobility for the populations who face the biggest barriers to adopting this technology, such as low-income communities and communities of color.
  • The best programs take a comprehensive approach to mobility equity and are led by the communities they impact, such as the Sustainable Transportation Equity Project. Such programs should be funded in California and scaled nationally.
  • California should institute structural reforms to improve interagency coordination and funding in order to maximize available resources for clean mobility investments and target them to the people with the most barriers. Multiple, overlapping programs lead to duplication and inefficiencies.
  • Programs that continue to entrench our dependency on single-occupancy vehicles should be phased out over time. While electric vehicles represent a major improvement over gasoline vehicles in terms of climate impacts and the transition to cleaner cars must continue, in the long haul we need policies that reduce congestion, vehicle trips and unsustainable land use patterns.

Chanell Fletcher, Deputy Executive Officer of Environmental Justice at the California Air Resources Board, praised the report: “We know how essential clean transportation is for low-income communities and communities of color. This report is an amazing resource that will elevate the variety of California clean mobility equity pilot programs. These programs will fight climate change, reduce air pollution, and most importantly improve access to opportunities for low-income communities and communities of color.”

To learn more about The Greenlining Institute, visit


THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE works toward a future when communities of color can build wealth, live in healthy places filled with economic opportunity, and are ready to meet the challenges posed by climate change.

The Greenlining Institute Announces New Strategic Plan

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

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – As the U.S. increasingly grapples with racial equity issues and a year and a half after Debra Gore-Mann became the organization’s first woman of color President and CEO, The Greenlining Institute is launching a new Strategic Plan to guide its work over the next three years.

The Strategic Plan commits Greenlining to working “towards a future where communities of color can build wealth, live in healthy places filled with economic opportunity, and are ready to meet the challenges posed by climate change.” It focuses the organization’s efforts on creation of a “just economy” that is “cooperative, sustainable, participatory, fair and healthy.”

To get there, Greenlining will focus on its three main roles:

  • Bridge builders, bringing together diverse players from the public, private and nonprofit sectors to create powerful solutions for lasting change.
  • Advocates, leading strategy and policy efforts, raising the visibility of issues that impact communities of color, and building political will for transformative policies to end racial inequity.
  • Incubators, working with communities to generate and test new policies and programs while training multi-ethnic leaders so they can be the strongest and most resilient advocates for change.

In order to more effectively push for systemic change, Greenlining is realigning its internal staff structure to more precisely achieve the new plan’s priorities, while maintaining its ongoing work on issues such as banking, housing, climate, health and access to technology, including crucial work with regulatory bodies such as the California Public Utilities Commission and Federal Reserve.

“Since our founding, Greenlining has brought literally hundreds of billions of dollars in investment into communities of color, but dollars – even when equitably distributed – aren’t enough,” said Greenlining Institute President and CEO Debra Gore-Mann. “While we work to meet the immediate needs of underserved communities, we’re going to redouble our efforts to fundamentally transform the systems that created these inequities in the first place.”

To learn more about The Greenlining Institute, visit


THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE works toward a future when communities of color can build wealth, live in healthy places filled with economic opportunity, and are ready to meet the challenges posed by climate change.