Prop 30: We were there at the beginning!

In 2022, we helped kick off the Prop 30 campaign to win a measure on the November ballot that would enable California to get very serious about addressing climate change and air quality (that is Denny Zane in the middle and Eli Lipmen and his son Cal on the left). Over 20 years the measure would invest about:

  • $45 billion to make zero-emission vehicles affordable, including cars, buses, and light-, medium-, and heavy-duty trucks, as well as trains and ships, and all diesel-powered vehicles and equipment as well.
  • $35 billion to expand zero-emission (this includes green hydrogen) charging and fueling infrastructure;
  • $20 billion to prevent catastrophic wildfires.

This could be a life-saver, given that we are experiencing—to quote the ballot measure’s Article 1: Title, Findings and Declarations, Statement of Purpose—“record-setting wildfires and droughts that ruin our air quality, damage California’s iconic beauty, destroy property, hurt our state’s economy and cost lives” . . . “action is needed now regarding two of the largest sources of greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions in our state: transportation and wildfires.”

Move LA is very pleased to have been one of the conveners of the dialogue that created Proposition 30, which began with a conversation between Move LA and SPUR in 2020. Move LA founder Denny Zane had been exploring ways to generate enough funding to “finish the clean air job” in Southern California and make a serious impact on climate change, and spoke about it on a program attended by Nick Josefowitz, SPUR’s Policy Director.

Both organizations were deeply concerned about the climate emergency and curious about the possibility of a statewide ballot measure that could raise the funding necessary to curb climate change in California—a strategy we believed was more robust, sustainable and reliable than legislative strategies.

Our first “Zoomposium” as we called it, was a serious conversation moderated by Denny Zane and Nick Josefowitz with people we consider to be climate heroes:  Mary Nichols, Fran Pavley, Kevin De Leon, Sen. Nancy Skinner, Terry Taminen and Randall Winston, as well as Mary Creasman of California Environmental Voters, Bill Magavern of the Coalition for Clean Air, Alvaro Sanchez of the Greenlining Institute, Chione Flegal of Policylink, and Chanell Fletcher of ClimatePlan (who soon became Deputy Executive Officer of Environmental Justice at the California Air Resources Board).

The conclusions of that first discussion ultimately shaped the investment priorities of what became Prop 30, including: investments in zero-emission cars, buses, trucks and ships; in the prevention of wildfires; and in reducing short-lived climate pollutants. We did six more webinars with big audiences in 2021, when we also talked about the challenges of phasing out diesel-powered vehicles and equipment and phasing in battery-powered technologies, and the opportunities and challenges of hydrogen.

Prop 30 reflects many of the priorities that were developed during those conversations over a year and a half, and we are proud to see that our top priority made it into the ballot measure: major investments over two decades that could transform the diesel-powered goods movement sector into one dominated by zero-emission technologies likely to be powered by both battery and hydrogen fuel-cell powered technologies.

Prop 30 also addresses the fact that while transportation remains the largest source of GHGs in California, zero-emission vehicles or ZEVs—whether electric or powered by hydrogen—are for now still too expensive for many people. California also lacks the charging infrastructure needed so that it’s as convenient for people to charge their zero-emission cars—at home or in their apartment and at work—as it is to drive to a gas station. But the measure dedicates half its funding to make zero-emission vehicles and equipment available to low-income people and those who live in disadvantaged communities.

As climate change gets worse, so do wildfires, which release more climate-changing carbon emissions into the air. In 2020 wildfires emitted the same amount of GHGs as more than 24 million cars. They now emit more GHGs than power plants.

Transportation and wildfires also pollute the air with particulate matter and smoke—more than 90 percent of Californians now breathe unhealthy levels of air pollutants at some point during the year. Seven of the 10 smoggiest cities in the U.S. are in California, and the number of unhealthy smoke days has increased 230% in Los Angeles and San Diego and 400% in San Jose since 2016—endangering children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with heart and respiratory conditions.

It should be noted that the black carbon emitted by diesel-powered vehicles and in smoke is also a powerful short-lived climate pollutant.

How will we afford the investments mentioned above? Proposition 30 levies a small 1.75% increase on personal income over $2 million to ensure the funding is provided from those who can most afford it. This means that less than 0.1% of Californians would pay the tax increase. 

The state’s Legislative Analyst projects the act would generate about $3 million to $4.5 million a year, and roughly $100 billion over 20+ years. Programs and the revenue required would end after reaching either and 80% reduction in GHGs or in 20 years, whichever comes first. The lead implementing agencies would include the California Energy Commission (CDC), California Air Resources Board (CARB), and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE).

Who has endorsed Proposition 30?  The list includes: the American Lung Association, California Democratic Party, California Environmental Voters, California State Pipe Trades Council, CAL FIRE Local 2881, Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice, Climate Resolve, Coalition for Clean Air, East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, Lyft, Natural Resources Defense Council, Move LA, Public Health Advocates, San Francisco Bay Physicians for Social Responsibility, State Association of Electrical Workers (IBEW), State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, and Union of Concerned Scientists. The full coalition list is here on the Prop 30 website:

We are proud to have been a part of the very beginning of this process, and all of us who have been involved believe that if the measure passes—as we believe it will, especially given the extremity of the heat and fires this summer—it will make California once again the center of the clean transportation and climate revolution.

Paid for by Move LA, a Project of Community Partners, 1000 N. Alameda St., Suite 240, Los Angeles, CA. 90012.