The Green Guillotine

Hermosa BeachIf you’ve ever wondered what happens when Berkeley-grade environmentalists finally seize control of all the levers of government power, let me introduce you to my town of Hermosa Beach, California.

The first thing they do is come for your carbon.

They want you to stop burning it. Immediately.

Environmental purists believe that burning carbon in any of its various forms ultimately causes the seas to rise and the polar caps to melt. They believe carbon emissions cause the rainlessness that is turning central California into fallow hardscape.

Hermosa’s newly elected political leadership decided to take a stand against carbon and recently unveiled a blueprint to reach the city’s goal of being “carbon neutral” by 2030. In green-speak, “carbon neutrality” means achieving zero net carbon emissions by eliminating greenhouse gasses (i.e., carbon dioxide) and purchasing “offsets” (i.e., trees) for whatever they can’t. Their roadmap to achieve this goal is called PLAN Hermosa.

Predictably, the first step towards “carbon neutrality” calls for getting rid of the city’s cars. According to PLAN Hermosa, transportation accounts for 54 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the city, so it is important to “disincentivize conventionally fueled automobile use.”

Hermosa Beach politicians aren’t bold enough (at least not yet) to issue a diktat banning gasoline burning automobiles from the city’s streets, so they do the next best thing – they make it hard for their residents to use them. PLAN Hermosa calls for the elimination of parking spaces and charging more for the ones that remain. In the densely populated beach city where parking is already at a premium and 95 percent of the working population drives to their place of business, this will be a significant imposition. But bicycling is good for you, and the ice floes and polar bears aren’t going to save themselves.

PLAN Hermosa also says that natural gas has to go because it’s the next biggest source of greenhouse emissions after cars. A draft of PLAN Hermosa “mandated” all homes in the city that currently use it (almost all of them) for heating and cooking convert to “biogas technologies and electrification of heating and cooking appliances.” Commercial buildings that use it (almost all of them) would be forced to retrofit with renewable energy sources at the time of sale or before any major renovations.

Given that “electrification” means homes and businesses will be forced to draw power from plants that generate most of it from fossil fuels, this is an obscenely expensive, self-congratulatory gesture.

The drafts of PLAN Hermosa are peppered with the word “mandate,” which means there’s no choice. City forces will presumably identify homes in Hermosa Beach (again, almost all of them) that use gas stoves and force homeowners to replace them with electric ones. It would be one thing if the city paid for the conversion, but given the state of the city’s finances homeowners will likely bear the cost. For the Hermosa’s businesses, consumers will pay for achieving carbon neutrality through higher prices. Either that or they’ll shop elsewhere.

Notably absent from PLAN Hermosa is a discussion of how the city will enforce these green “mandates.”

What will the city do to homeowners who refuse to convert? Typically, violating the municipal code is a misdemeanor offense punishable by fines and jail time. Will the city fine homeowners who keep the outlawed ovens, or will it throw recalcitrant “climate deniers” who refuse to do their part to combat global warming in jail? (This might seem like oppressive government overreach to most, but don’t forget President Obama’s DOJ contemplated legal action against “climate deniers.”) Either way, the city will have to do something, because a mandate without enforcement is merely a suggestion.

Hermosa Beach’s green political activists also know eliminating residents’ demand for carbon is only half the battle; they must also cut-off the supply. Like the DEA dusting Colombia’s coca fields with herbicides to stem the production of cocaine, Hermosa Beach’s politicians will choke-off the supply of climate-killing carbon through “Community Choice Aggregation.” This is a state-approved plan that allows cities to create a municipal utility to purchase and sell energy from green sources. In other words, when Hermosa residents fire-up their new electric stoves the power will come from solar panels and wind turbines. Some estimate the set-up cost could be as much as $1,000,000. Residents and businesses will automatically become customers of the new utility unless they choose to “opt out.”

The idealistic French revolutionaries who seized control of their country brought liberté, égalité, fraternité to the French people – and eventually, the guillotine. When the green Jacobins took control of Hermosa Beach they brought a regime of taxpayer funding, symbolism, and government coercion to residents. The last two, symbolism and government coercion, are to environmentalism what fuel and oxygen are to fire. Cost – especially when it’s other people’s money – isn’t a consideration. Green idealism currently rules Hermosa Beach, and where idealism rules the guillotine isn’t far behind. But in Hermosa Beach, at least it will be solar powered.

Patrick “Kit” Bobko is a former two-term City Councilman and Mayor of Hermosa Beach, California. Kit was also a Republican candidate for Congress in 2011. Kit is a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy and a proud Air Force veteran. He currently practices law in Los Angeles.

Let’s Pump the Brakes on Cap-and-Trade

cap-and-trade-mindscanner-sstockIn 2006, elected officials gave the California Air Resources Board virtually unchecked authority to implement AB32, which aims to reduce carbon emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020. The legislation, including the controversial cap-and-trade program, expires in four years.

Some lawmakers have already introduced legislation, such as SB32, to extend CARB’s authority. However, instead of rushing to renew this controversial and expensive program, we should slow down and come up with a more affordable solution that benefits all of California.

Cap-and-trade limits carbon emissions by energy producers and raises money through the sale of carbon credits. It’s supposed to fight global warming by making it more expensive to use carbon-based fuels. But that’s not the only thing it does.

It turns out the program has made life more expensive for Californians as well.

Since being given the authority, CARB has implemented a steady stream of costly regulations, such as the “hidden gas tax.” Experts agree that this hidden tax costs California drivers at least 10 cents more in added cost per gallon of gasoline. They also acknowledge CARB’s “low-carbon fuel standard” could add another 13 cents per gallon by 2020.

Motorists might be open to paying these costs if the money actually went towards repairing our crumbling roads. Instead it seems the cap-and-trade program has become a multi-billion dollar slush fund for politicians’ pet projects.

Perhaps intentionally, CARB still hasn’t come up with a systematic way to determine if cap-and-trade dollars are really doing anything to help lower emissions levels.

There is little consensus on what constitutes a “green project.” When pushed for answers, CARB officials deflect. This obscurity allows the governor to direct cap-and-trade funds towards his $71 billion high-speed rail project, which is actually increasing the state’s carbon emissions.

Some cap-and-trade funds were supposed to go towards programs for low-income communities that want to invest in renewable energy. Because CARB is largely free to do as it wishes, there’s no real way of knowing if these grants are reaching their intended targets. That’s a kick in a gut to the less fortunate who supported AB32.

Like you, I want breathable air and clean parks for our children and grandchildren. But do CARB’s unelected bureaucrats really need this much power? Government mandates can be very expensive and inevitably the costs are passed down to consumers. Not everyone can afford a Tesla.

Why can’t we use cap-and-trade funds to solve real problems like emission-causing traffic congestion? Think about it: What pollutes more, a car that reaches its destination quickly or one that’s stuck idling on a freeway for an extra 20 minutes?

A state appeals court has already put the future of cap-and-trade in doubt. And many questions remain, such as how to spend the billions collected and whether or not the program is really an illegal tax. Some doubt CARB has the right to collect the money at all.

There’s also a fierce debate over whether or not regulators can extend the program without the Legislature’s permission. The Legislature’s chief counsel doesn’t think so.

California is already a leader on climate change, and our current law doesn’t expire until 2020. Perhaps we should leave lawmaking to our elected officials, not abdicate power to unelected regulators. Rather than rush an extension, let’s invite the public to join the discussion. Californians deserve clean air, but they also deserve affordable energy—and to know how their dollars are being spent.

George Runner is an elected member of the California State Board of Equalization.

CA’s cap-and-trade program faces daunting hurdles to avoid collapse

As reported by the Los Angeles Times:

The linchpin of California’s climate change agenda, a program known as cap and trade, has become mired in legal, financial and political troubles that threaten to derail the state’s plans to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

The program has been a symbol of the state’s leadership in the fight against global warming and a key source of funding, most notably for the high-speed rail project connecting San Francisco and Los Angeles.

But the legality of cap and trade is being challenged in court by a business group, and questions are growing about whether state law allows it to operate past 2020. With the end of the legislative session in August, Gov. Jerry Brown, lawmakers and interest groups of all stripes are laying the groundwork for what could become a battle royal over the future of California’s climate change programs. …

Click here to read the full article

Cap-and-Trade Revenue Drastically Lower Than Expected

carbon-tax-1In yet another blow to California’s besieged bullet train, revenues from this year’s cap-and-trade carbon credit auction fell drastically below the state’s goals, triggering a selloff that left analysts unsure of the system’s long-term viability.

“The results of last week’s quarterly auction were posted and revealed that instead of the $500-plus million expected from the sale of state-owned allowances, the state will get only about $10 million, less than 2 percent,” the Sacramento Bee reported.

“The poor results confirmed reports circulating in financial circles that the cap-and-trade program has begun to stumble. February’s auction resulted in some allowances being left unsold — the first time that had happened. Afterward, there was a brisk trade in the secondary market as speculators began dumping their holdings due to uncertainty about the future of the program, which may expire in 2020.”

Officials and activists swiftly sought to downplay the damage. “Over the long-term allowances will be needed, and so the allowances that will be offered through the auction will need to be purchased,” said Ross Brown of the Legislative Analyst’s Office. “But in the short-term it’s hard to know and it depends on the underlying supply and demand.” From an environmentalist standpoint, meanwhile, “it’s important to remember that […] it’s the declining cap — not the price or number of allowances sold at auction — that drives emissions reductions,” wrote Alex Jackson at the National Resources Defense Council. “That is the purpose of the program, not raising revenue.” But with 2020 looming, Jackson allowed, the one-two punch against high-speed rail and cap-and-trade have cast doubt on California’s strategy of fusing infrastructure and environmentalism into a single economic policy.

Case and controversy

Adding to the upheaval, the carbon credit regime itself has wound up in court, as the state Chamber of Commerce pushes to prove that the legislation authorizing its creation — AB32 — has run afoul of the state constitution. “Propositions 13 and 26 require a two-thirds majority for the Legislature to approve new or higher taxes and fees,” as Hoover Institution fellow Carson Bruno wrote at the Bee. “Whether or not AB32, which barely passed in 2006, is unconstitutional depends on whether the cap-and-trade revenues constitute either a tax or a fee. These auction revenues fit the definition of both a tax and fee. They are imposed by a government entity, spent on government activities and are collected in exchange for a transaction — in this case a permit to emit greenhouse gases.”

Officials have countered that argument in court. “The state contends the fees are not taxes, but a consequence of regulations,” as the Times noted. But a judge hearing arguments “recently asked a series of questions that perhaps fueled speculation that he might rule in favor of the suit,” according to the paper.

The governor’s gambit

Flexing his considerable political skill and discipline to balance competing interests to his ideological left, Gov. Jerry Brown had labored to ensure that cap-and-trade funds could be leveraged to make the train a viable public and private sector investment. That presumed a degree of stability in revenues that now can’t be relied on. “The rail authority had been expecting about $150 million,” the Los Angeles Times observed; now, it will receive just $2.5 million. “Whatever prompted the lack of buyers, the auction is a stark example of the uncertainty and risk of relying on actively-traded carbon credits to build the bullet train, a problem highlighted in recent legislative testimony by the Legislative Analyst’s Office and a peer-review panel for the $64-billion high-speed rail.”

Brown had hedged against just such an eventuality, however. State finance spokesman H.D. Palmer “noted that there is a $500-million reserve set up in anticipation of volatility that could help close the gap,” the Times added. But Brown will have to clear the emergency expenditure in Sacramento, where some liberal lawmakers, hoping to channel more money to environmental policy, could try to nix the scheme by aligning with Republicans long bent on scrapping the train.

This piece was originally published by

CARB’s Ironic Quest to Save the Rainforest

RainforestThe California Air Resources Board recently announced plans to dedicate a portion of its hidden gas tax to saving the tropical rainforest. This is ironic because CARB’s own policies actually contribute to rainforest deforestation.

The agency is a strong advocate of a “low carbon fuel standard,” or LCFS. The LCFS is a food-for-fuel program that, along with similar mandates in the European Union and the United Kingdom, is wreaking havoc in the rainforest.

Unlike the national ethanol mandate, which relies heavily on domestically-produced corn-based ethanol, CARB’s LCFS places a much greater emphasis on sugar and soybean-based fuels – crops often produced in tropical nations where rainforests are endangered.

When CARB initially considered adoption of the LCFS in 2008, 27 scientists and researchers submitted a letter indicating the policy could have serious unintended consequences on land use.

Holly Gibbs, a researcher at Stanford University’s Woods Institute for the Environmentstated: “If we run our cars on biofuels produced in the tropics, chances will be good that we are effectively burning rainforests in our gas tanks.”

Noted primatologist Jane Goodall has also spoken out, stating: “We’re cutting down forests now to grow sugarcane and palm oil for biofuels and our forests are being hacked into by so many interests that it makes them more and more important to save now.”

Just a few days ago CARB collected hundreds of millions in hidden gas taxes in an opaque carbon credit auction. However, instead of raising gas prices to save the rainforest CARB could do much more by reevaluating its LCFS program instead.

Eric Eisenhammer is the founder of the Coalition of Energy Users, a nonprofit grassroots organization for access to affordable energy and quality jobs.

Originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

New Carbon Rules Press Aggressive Environmental Agenda

car exhaust1In the wake of a big legislative setback, Gov. Jerry Brown’s wish to use regulations to cut fuel emissions is swiftly coming true.

This month, Democratic lawmakers couldn’t muster enough votes to slash gasoline use by half within 15 years. Now, the state Air Resources Board has taken action widely seen as compensatory. “The action, coming two weeks after a stinging defeat for Gov. Jerry Brown’s planned 50 percent cut in petroleum use by 2030, signaled his administration’s determination to press forward with an aggressive environmental agenda through the regulatory process rather than by legislation,” noted the New York Times.

Resurgent regulations

In a unanimous, 9-0 vote, the board chose to reactivate California’s standards on low-carbon fuel, created years ago but recently held in legal limbo. The regime constituted “the first regulation of its kind in the U.S. when it was established in a 2007 executive order by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger,” as the Wall Street Journal reported. “It had been frozen since 2013, as the state made revisions to the law following a court challenge.”

“The California regulation further tightens the state’s emissions regulations, already the most stringent in the U.S. It requires fuel makers to reduce emissions by developing cleaner fuels or adopting greater use of biofuels. It also requires fuel producers to take into account all emissions for delivering gasoline, diesel or biofuels to California customers.”

Tweaks to the rules made in the wake of the court challenge included “streamlining the application process for alternative fuel producers seeking a carbon intensity score,” according to Ethanol Producer Magazine.

The interventions quickly drew howls from the oil and gas industry, which views the rules’ requirements as unattainable. Tiffany Roberts, director for fuels and climate policy at the Western States Petroleum Association, told the Sacramento Business Journal they weren’t feasible, suggesting that “even if oil businesses are able to incorporate those pollution-cutting methods, they still cannot meet the program’s aggressive standards.” Defenders of the plan, meanwhile, focused on its perceived benefits. “It will drive new technologies, not only in transportation fuel but in hybrid cars, electric cars and other means of transportation,” Pacific Ethanol spokesman Paul Koehler told the Business Journal.

Political heat

Industry interests haven’t fueled the only criticism of Brown’s regulatory approach, however. Earlier this month, the administration heard out the complaints of a gaggle of state lawmakers — including Democrats — frustrated by the activism and assertiveness of the Air Resources Board. Their debate with Brown “turns on questions of how the state can meet its environmental goals with the right balance between the executive branch, which prizes the ability to act independently, and state lawmakers, who want their own stamp on government programs,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

That disagreement came to a head amid the collapse of the Senate’s planned 50 percent cut in statewide petroleum use. “If the board made decisions adversely impacting constituents, many of whom have already been struggling economically, the consequences could be dire,” uneasy Democrats feared, as CalWatchdog previously noted. “What’s more, angry voters would have little way to respond but at the ballot box.”

While state Senate pro Tem Kevin de Leon portrayed the cut’s failure as the consequence of a massive industry campaign, Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Glendale, instead focused on the Air Resources Board’s “tremendous arrogance,” the Times reported, “noting that he’s never taken campaign money from the oil industry but remains skeptical about the measure.”

But the board’s recent successes at advancing its agenda suggested its influence was set to grow. Tipped by concerned scientists, it launched the investigation into the Volkswagen Group of America that revealed the auto company’s secret years-long use of “a defeat device to circumvent CARB and […] EPA emission test procedures,” as emissions compliance chief Annette Hebert revealed.

Originally published by

Jerry Brown issues a more ambitious greenhouse gas reduction target

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

Gov. Jerry Brown, touting what he called a “high bar” on climate change, on Wednesday issued an ambitious new greenhouse gas reduction target for the state.

The target, contained in an executive order and expected to be folded into pending legislation, seeks to reduce emissions in California 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

The goal is in line with one adopted by the European Union last year, and proponents characterized it as the most aggressive in North America.

Climate Activists Tout Effectiveness Of School Brainwashing

Climate change activists are touting new evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of educational programs that seek to transform American schoolchildren into anti-carbon activists through the power of animation and freestyle rapping.

The Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) is a non-profit organization that seeks to educate students on climate science and inspire them to take collective action to fight global climate change.

One of the major ways it does so is by organizing school assemblies in which it uses cartoons, music, and even rapping to motivate children to stop living large and join climate activist groups. The assembly has been performed at over 2,300 schools and has reached over 1.7 million students. The long-term goal is to boost climate engagement among young people and minorities, mobilize some of them to become activists for the cause, and in turn counteract recent evidence that relatively few Americans are worried about climate change as an issue.

Now, a new study released in the latest edition of the journal Climatic Change indicates that this school propagandizing may be working. Researchers from Yale, Stanford, and George Mason University surveyed a total of 1,241 high school students at 49 schools that hosted the assemblies to gauge their opinions and actions regarding climate change both before and after the presentations.

When researchers checked up on them several days after the assemblies, students were significantly more likely to express agreement with ACE’s ideology. “Recognition of scientific agreement that climate change is happening” soared by 15 percent, while 38 percent of children rose to a higher level of climate concern on a six-point spectrum that ranges from “dismissive” to “alarmed.”

They were more likely to take action as well: the proportion of students talking to their friends or parents about climate change more than doubled from 9 and 6 percent, respectively, to 21 and 15 percent.

“We find this encouraging,” researchers said, “as it suggests that students carry the Climatic Change information and enthusiasm they gained from the edutainment presentation into their families and social circles.”

The survey also found that high schoolers were more likely to perform a host of minor climate-saving behaviors, including taking shorter showers, unplugging electronic devices when not in use, and shutting off the lights more frequently.

The authors, hardly neutral on the topic themselves, conclude that more effort is needed, however, and that “further intervention will likely be necessary to cultivate deeper engagement in the climate change issue among youth.” That further intervention is close at hand, as researchers note that ACE’s long-term strategy is to collaborate with willing school staff to present updated and modified assemblies to the same students for several years in a row.

“Given the changes resulting from a single presentation, the net impact of all these intervention efforts could be a population shift in climate science knowledge and positive engagement in the issue of climate change.”

This piece was originally published at the Daily Caller News Foundation

‘Disadvantaged’ counties fight for cap-and-trade dollars

In the fictional town of Lake Woebegon, all of the children are above average. But in the real world of California, all of the counties are disadvantaged.

Or so it seemed at a recent California Air Resources Board meeting as officials from all over the state poor-mouthed their districts to gain a share of cap-and-trade funds set aside for “disadvantaged communities.”

Cap and trade is one of the main greenhouse-gas-reduction components in the implementation of AB32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. It’s projected to raise $832 million in the current fiscal year that will be doled out to various state agencies.

Senate Bill 535, passed in 2012, mandates at least 25 percent of cap-and-trade spending must benefit disadvantaged communities, with at least 10 percent going to projects located in those communities.

CARB, which implemented and administers the cap-and-trade program, identifies “disadvantaged communities” based on their California Environmental Protection Agency CalEnviroScreen score. Each of the state’s 8,000 census tracts are scored from 0 (least disadvantaged) to 100 (most disadvantaged), based on 12 pollution and environmental factors and seven population characteristics and socioeconomic factors.

The most disadvantaged communities are generally those with the highest levels of pollution and the poorest population. They are predominantly in the agricultural Central Valley from Sacramento to Bakersfield, along with urban pockets in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and San Diego.

“CalEnviroScreen shows clearly what we in the San Joaquin Valley know all too well: that many of our communities are among the most disadvantaged in the state,” said Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin,  as quoted in a CalEPA press release. “By reinvesting funds in areas of the state with high pollution levels, California is demonstrating its commitment to a cleaner and more prosperous future for all.”

In the November election, she is running for state controller as a Republican against Democrat Betty Yee, a member of the state Board of Equalization.


But not so fast, said numerous officials and advocates who spoke at CARB’s recent hearing on the issue. Particularly angry was CARB member and San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts, who produced a map:

San Diego affordable housing tracts, censusColor code:

  • White indicates an area is not that disadvantaged
  • Dark purple marks the more disadvantaged areas.
  • Light purple indicates intermediate areas.

Roberts didn’t like the CalEnviroScreen white coloration on the southern end of his county near the Mexican border. “Where those two freeways come together in that white zone is the busiest border crossing in the world,” he said.


As Roberts was talking, CARB Chairwoman Mary Nichols interrupted, “You don’t have a hard time convincing me. You need to go take this argument to CalEPA.”

“The fact that’s not a bright purple, it is disadvantaged in every way, shape, or form,” said Roberts.

Nichols again interrupted, “All I can tell you is –“

“Let me finish,” said Roberts. “The EnviroScreen may be good for some things, but this is being missed. That whole area should be bright purple, not just the white. The fact that it’s not, should signal somebody that the model we have is not accounting for what’s happening on the ground. There is no way that I can support something that basically ignores the situation like this.

“That’s one of our most impacted areas in the whole county, for certain, and it’s one of our lowest income areas. This is a miscarriage of justice. And you talk about environmental justice, and there is none in that map right there.”

Northern California

There is also disadvantaged disgruntlement from officials at the other end of the state. Alan Abbs, the Tehama County air pollution control officer, is concerned  his county’s census tracts are in the 25-30 percent most disadvantaged ranking, although the cutoff for funding might be at the 20 percent most disadvantaged level.

“Tehama County as a whole has a population with a median household income 33 percent below the state median,” Abbs told the board. “We have the highest asthma rates in the north state. And like any county in California, we have pockets that are significantly less well off than other pockets. So at the outset, I would urge the board to consider going beyond the 20 percent level when you’re looking at disadvantaged communities.

“When we look in the future about how rural areas of California are going to be receiving funds through cap and trade, especially when fuels get added into cap and trade [starting in 2015], I think we’ll find out a lot of rural areas of California are going to be [left] out, even though the residents in those areas are going to be paying into the program through higher fuel costs.”

Also concerned that the CalEnviroScreen rankings may not provide the whole picture, particularly in rural areas not in the Central Valley, was Tehama County Supervisor Bob Williams, representing the Rural County Representatives of California.

“CalEnviroScreen multiplies pollution burdens by the social and economic characteristics of the community, basically eliminating areas of the state with good air quality from being defined as disadvantaged communities, no matter their socioeconomic status,” said Williams.

“Using strictly the CalEnviroScreen as a source for recognition could potentially eliminate a minimum of counties from consideration, including counties such as Lake, Modoc, Plumas, and Lassen. If you’ve been to those counties, you would be hard pressed to deny they have disadvantaged areas.

“RCRC recommends that additional flexibility be allowed so local jurisdictions can demonstrate that a community smaller than a census tract can meet the definition of a disadvantaged community. Rural areas cannot compete in many AB32 programs because projects usually cost more to complete in more remote areas. Being excluded from the disadvantaged community designation all but eliminates these counties from access to funds.”’


Nichols was sympathetic to their concerns. “We do understand this issue about rural areas, which undoubtedly are among the poorest of areas within the state of California, but are not the ones that fit the criteria of being impacted the most in terms of multiple sources of pollution,” she said.

“And we agree that it’s not just an issue of fairness. It’s an issue of addressing opportunities that are there to do things that could ultimately benefit all of us when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. So we want to make sure that there is a way to appropriately recognize and make sure there are funds flowing to rural communities in the overall AB32 cap-and-trade spending program.”

But advocates for poor urban areas aren’t keen on spreading the disadvantaged money around to less disadvantaged areas. They want the most disadvantaged communities, particularly those with minority populations, to get most of the money.

“I think all of us here understand that historically low-income communities of color have been disproportionately burdened with pollution, which remains true today,” said Bill Magavern with the Coalition for Clean Air. “So we have the opportunity now to go a little ways towards redressing that inequity, that environmental injustice, with some of the funds that are available.”

Monika Shankar, representing Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles, argued for “a ranking system to prioritize investments in communities with the greatest needs. For example, many of the census tracts in the top 5 percent score markedly worse than the next set of census tracts in the top 6 to 25 percent. And we need to be cognizant of that.”

Also in favor of concentrating the money where it’s needed most was Marybelle Nzegwu, a Public Advocates attorney representing the SB535 Coalition.

“We would like to see the guidelines at least provide guidance that scoring and ranking should prioritize certain types of projects, should prioritize projects that benefit the most disadvantaged communities, should also prioritize projects that provide the most benefits in the most significant way,” she said.

CARB voted 9-1 (with Roberts voting no) to adopt the disadvantaged communities spending guidelines outlined in their staff report. They also agreed to send a message to CalEPA that they feel there are some discrepancies in the CalEnviroScreen map ratings they would like addressed.

This article was originally published on