The Clean Cars and Clean Air Act has qualified for the November ballot and would generate $4 billion to $4.5 billion annually, providing California with a stable funding source to increase the number of zero-emission vehicles on the road— both battery electric and hydrogen fuel-cell-powered light-duty cars, heavy-duty trucks, ships, trains and aircraft—and to help prevent and suppress wildfires.
If this measure is passed by voters it would raise the funding needed by increasing taxes by 1.75 percent on individuals and couples making more than $2 million per year. Add your name to get involved with passing this ballot initiative.
This measure becomes even more important with the U.S. Supreme Court's 6-3 decision today to side with West Virginia and other big coal-producing states to limit U.S. EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gases emissions from power plants. This suggests that state-level action to fight climate change and investment strategies such as those in the Clean Cars and Clean Air Act measure will become even more important in the future.
The need for a source of funding to address the climate and clean air challenge is obvious (as the image above makes "clear"), and you may remember this was a topic Move LA and SPUR began discussing at length on Zooms beginning in 2020. We had these online discussions with colleagues and partners including environmental and environmental justice advocates, the California Air Resources Board, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, other government agencies, labor, experts from across the U.S., and .orgs. (You can listen to all nine Zooms here.)
These lengthy discussions helped lead to this ballot measure, which was certified for the November ballot this week.
As Mary Creasman from California Environmental Voters wrote in Cal Matters earlier this year, "Californians are on the front line of the devastating impacts of the climate crisis. Catastrophic wildfires, drought and extreme weather are costing us previous lives, destroying property, damaging the state's natural beauty, inflicting losses on our economy, imperiling our future and—in a vicious cycle—spewing even more pollution into the air."
California Environmental Voters along with SPUR, Lyft, and the State Association of Electrical Workers have joined dozens of other environmental, labor and business groups—and Move LA—in supporting this measure to reduce emissions from ozone and particulate pollution from the transportation sector and wildfires.
"Air pollution drives climate change; climate change drives wildfires; wildfires create more air pollution," Creasman wrote. "We must act now to address the root causes of this undermining the progress the state has made in fighting air pollution."
All Californians are affected but low-income communities of color are bearing the brunt of air pollution since they live near freeways, industries and the ports. High levels of these pollutants are linked to respiratory illness, heart disease and mortality.
If this measure is approved 45 percent of funding would go to CARB to create incentives such as rebates for zero-emission vehicles; 35 percent would go to the California Energy Commission to install more electric vehicle chargers at homes, apartments and public places and to build out clean hydrogen fueling infrastructure.
The remaining 20 percent would go to Cal Fire and the State Fire Marshal's Office to prevent wildfires and hire more firefighters, buy more firefighting equipment and to expand controlled burns, forest-thinning projects and otherwise reduce wildfire risk.
Half the funding would be spent on investments and programs that primarily benefit low-income and disadvantaged communities.
"We've seen 50 years of California policies reducing air pollution," Will Barrett, national senior director for clean air policy at the American Lung Association, which supports the measure, told the Mercury News. "But that job is becoming more difficult because of climate change. A big driver of that unhealthy air has been wildfires increasing in severity in recent years. And we know we can't achieve our clean air standards without widespread transition to zero-emission vehicles."