California’s big climate bills are a win for environmental justice
California Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign a pair of climate bills approved by state lawmakers this week. Together, SB32 and AB197 will not only tackle the state’s greenhouse emissions but also assure greater accountability for working class communities of color that too often carry the burden of local polluting industries.
SB32 creates a new target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030 (
over below 1990 levels). But aggressive climate action doesn’t necessarily benefit all communities equally.
Take Coachella, California. Aside from its famously annoying music festival, Coachella, as part of Riverside County, is best known for having some of the worst air quality in the nation.
Coachella — a working class Latino community where one in three residents survives below the poverty line — is stuck with a disproportionate pollution burden, even while California gets all the credit for cutting overall greenhouse gasses.
Eduardo Garcia, an assembly member from Coachella, authored AB197. The bill assures permanent legislative oversight of the Air Resources Board, an agency that environmental justice activists say doesn’t focus enough on reducing the harmful effect of local polluting refineries and factories. Together, the two bills finally begin to bridge the gap between big climate solutions and local air problems, helping underserved communities breathe a little easier.