The coming decade looms large for anyone who has been at the frontlines of fighting climate change and air pollution. The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report concluded we have just 12 years to reduce global emissions or the consequences could be irreversible.
Our politicians have shown the leadership that can help get us there: Governor Jerry Brown set a goal of deploying 5 million ZEVs by 2030; Governor Gavin Newsom wants to dump diesel by 2030; LA Mayor Garcetti and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia set a goal of zero emissions at the ports by 2035. And by 2031 the South Coast Air District must meet federal standards for air quality or face certain penalties and loss of funding.
All of this will take major public investments in incentives and infrastructure—and that’s where voters come in! We can dump diesel, improve air quality, and conquer climate change if we can match the State of California’s investment in clean transportation.
We need to drive clean transportation technologies like zero-emission vehicles to the marketplace faster and at scale—light, medium and heavy-duty vehicles! Simply put, we need to get to economies of scale quickly in order to make ZEVs cheaper than their gasoline and diesel counterparts. Then the marketplace itself can take over.
We also need to drive near-zero emission heavy-duty trucks to the marketplace because we must dump diesel now—it’s toxic to our neighbors, especially in the frontline communities near freeways and ports. While zero-emission trucks are the goal, it may take a long time to develop the technology that allows these trucks to travel across the country, and even longer to install charging infrastructure that will take them where they need to go. This is why we believe near-zero heavy-duty trucks are part of the solution.
There is an advantage to near-zero in the short term because we must also capture and use short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), which are 100 times more powerful than CO2. They also decay more quickly, but only after the damage is done. Near-zero trucks can be fueled by biomethane, one of the major SCLPs—80% of which is produced by dairies and cattle ranches, landfills and waste-water plants.
Regulating heavy-duty trucks to make them comply with California’s climate goals isn’t an option, because they are regulated by the federal government, not states or localities.
Addressing these concerns requires major investments, and we need to make big progress in a decade. We learned when passing Measures R and M for transit that we can raise serious money at the ballot box to help achieve seemingly impossible goals—these measures together are raising $120 billion over 40 years for transportation, 70% of that for transit.
The State of California is already investing big bucks in the fight against climate change. Now we need to double down on that investment at the local level. And we know how to do this because we have done it before.
So what if we could vote to end climate change? Would you?
Is it Time for Move SoCal?
Move LA is planning to build a regional coalition, Move SoCal, which will launch later this year to support a regional ballot initiative in 2020. Our proposed measure will be developed through an iterative process similar to the way our Measure R2 “straw man” proposal presaged Measure M. Our goal would be to go before voters in November 2020 in the South Coast Air Quality Management District, whose boundaries include LA, Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside counties, excluding the high desert areas.
The South Coast Air District Governing Board has voted to seek authorizing legislation to pursue such a measure and has conducted polling in which voters responded very positively to the idea of a regional measure to reduce emissions. We think emission reductions need to be coupled with significant investments in transit infrastructure, especially the regional Metrolink commuter rail system, to provide both congestion relief and economic development opportunities.
We present our ideas to you for discussion and feedback as we work to build this new coalition.
- Accelerate deployment of zero & near-zero emission trucks and off-road vehicles to implement the 2016 Air Quality Management Plan and finish cleaning up Southern California’s air;
- Accelerate deployment of zero-emission cars, SUVs & pickups to achieve dramatic reductions in GHGs;
- Modernize, electrify and enhance service on Metrolink, our regional commuter rail system;
- Invest in the expansion of rail transit, BRT, local bus systems, and active transportation infrastructure in four counties.
Likely funding sources include a half-cent sales tax increase and truck registration fees to raise more than $1.5 billion in the first year and about $70 billion over 30 years.
The poll conducted by the South Coast AQMD that asked voters in the four-county region if they would support a ballot measure for a half-cent sales tax increase showed up to 65% voter support.
The poll also showed that better results could be expected if investments in congestion-relieving infrastructure were included in the measure. The results suggest that a measure requiring 2/3 voter approval could win in 2020, either in the March primary, which is likely to have a disproportionately high Democratic turnout, or at the certain-to-be-high-turnout November election.
A majority vote measure—which could be put on the ballot by a voter initiative and signature drive—would be a slam dunk.