Soapbox

Prop. 70 will undermine California’s climate investments

Gov. Jerry Brown holds up a bill extending California’s cap-and-trade system after signing it on Treasure Island on July 25, 2017.
Gov. Jerry Brown holds up a bill extending California’s cap-and-trade system after signing it on Treasure Island on July 25, 2017. AP file

Proposition 70 is a toxic ballot initiative that would undermine investments that are improving health, cleaning the air and fighting climate change. It would lead to budget gridlock and increase the power of corporate interests in California’s climate policy.

 
Opinion

Currently, a simple majority of the Legislature determines climate spending. Proposition 70 would increase that threshold to a two-thirds vote, starting in 2024.

If passed, Prop. 70 could result in severe cuts in successful programs that have created jobs, installed solar power, replaced polluting cars and trucks with clean electric vehicles and planted trees in low-income communities. At worst, these investments could be taken away from California’s most polluted communities and instead line the pockets of polluters.

Strela Cervas

The benefits of these cutting-edge investments can be found across California. For example the Transformative Climate Communities program will invest $140 million in poor neighborhoods such as southwest Fresno, where residents breathe some of the dirtiest air in the nation. The program is the only one of its kind to comprehensively address multiple forms of pollution and will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as improve air quality and public health.

Since 2015, nearly $56 million in climate investments have been allocated to Sacramento County for transit improvements and innovative efforts such as community car-sharing. Nearly 4,400 plug-in hybrid, electric or fuel cell vehicles have been purchased through rebates funded by climate investments.

Proposition 70 does nothing to enhance oversight or accountability of climate spending. California already has annual budget and policy hearings and reports and a spending plan approved by majority.

We cannot let legislators hold our climate investments hostage. Prop. 70 is only on the June 5 ballot because it was negotiated as part of a back-room deal led by Big Oil to get a two-thirds vote for the cap-and-trade extension in 2017. Corporate interests and polluters will continue to push for carve-outs that undermine climate progress and community health.

We cannot let our state’s climate investments be diverted to help polluters or fund wasteful projects, rather than invest in our communities. The health of our most vulnerable communities and California’s climate leadership are on the line.

Strela Cervas is interim co-director of the California Environmental Justice Alliance Action. She can be contacted at scervas@caleja.org.

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