We Can Vote to End Climate Change! But Regionally or Statewide?

Yes, we meant it when we said maybe we could vote to end climate change in 2022 or come pretty close. It is very important that we try – especially since the 2018 IPCC report said we had maybe 12 years to turn climate change around.

And with the need for serious money to recover from the economic shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic and the need to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs quickly to get people back to work, what better way to stimulate the economy, clean up our air and environment than to invest in modern transportation? Of, course the revenue source matters.

Here’s how:

clean_vehicles.pngMission Critical #1: Dramatically reduce, or capture and use, Short-Lived Climate Pollutants, a.k.a. “Super Pollutants” such as biomethane, black carbon, and ozone from landfills, wastewater treatment facilities, dairies, livestock, from diesel uses, fireplaces and wildfires. These gases are the most powerful climate forcers and drive 40% of global warming. Fortunately, they decay in 12-15 years or less. Dramatically reducing these emissions is a strategy that can actually roll back global warming. 

Mission Critical #2: Accelerate the rollout of zero-emission cars, SUVs, and pickups in the most significant transportation marketplace in the world – California! With the possible need to social distance, we don’t want people getting back into their pollution emitting vehicle or, even worse, purchasing a new or used pollution-causing vehicle.

Mission Critical #3: Accelerate the rollout of zero and near-zero emission trucks, trains, ships and planes in the most significant transportation marketplace in the world – California! Such vehicles are the largest source of smog in California.

Mission Critical #4: Transform our regional commuter rail transit systems into a zero-emission, high-velocity, regional express systems – in Southern California, perhaps in San Diego County, the Bay Area, even in the Central Valley. Even connect them up to create a statewide high-velocity system (do we dare call it high-speed rail?)

Do it for California and we do it for America – perhaps for the world!

California is the 5th largest economy in the world. Bringing the manufacture of zero and near-zero emission cars, trucks, trains, ships and planes, construction and port equipment, etc., to serious levels for the California market will createeconomies of scale and bring costs down, perhaps worldwide. That could enable a significant expansion of the global market for these vehicles.

A ballot measure in Southern California (or even statewide) can enable usto raise the magnitude of resources needed to accelerate the rollout of these clean technologies, as well as their charging and fueling infrastructure, on the scale needed in the time needed while modernizing our commuter rail systems.

Plus, these are high-quality, high-paying jobs with good benefits that can mostly continue in a world of social distancing as work hours and work sites have already adapted and continue currently as “essential services.”

We can make the leap from a global pandemic to a transformational breakthrough!

The Choice for 2022: A Regional Measure or a Statewide Measure?

Over the past two years, we had been working to create Move SoCal and planning to sponsor a regional half-cent sales tax measure in the 4-county South Coast Air Quality Management District (Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, and Riverside). Polling showed over 65% voter support, though it would likely need only a majority vote if done as a voter initiative. The measure would have raised $65 B over 30 years and fully implemented our regional air plan, achieved federal air quality standards, made dramatic reductions in greenhouse gases, while enabling Metrolink to become a zero-emission, high-velocity, regional express system.

While the regional approach seemed very promising and we were garnering support throughout the region, but we could not overcome one major challenge: the state legislature and the governor need to authorize such a measure in a special district and pressure from friends of the oil industry bottled-up the authorizing legislation.

The Case for a Statewide Measure

Interestingly, qualifying a state initiative requires approximately the same number of signatures as required to qualify a regional measure. Signatures drives for a statewide measure or a regional measure would likely cost about the same as well.

To qualify a state initiative, one needs 5% of the voters who voted in the last governor’s race while to qualify a special district measure requires signatures of 10% of all registered voters in the district –both a regional and state measure requires a little over 600,000 signatures.

• A state measure clearly requires only a majority vote for approval; no future court decision required.
• Importantly, no need to get authorization from the legislature at all. Authority for statewide voter initiatives is in the State Constitution. (We like equal work and less risk!)
• While no polling has yet been done, if you compare the statewide vote with the regional vote on recent tax measures (like the recent failed Proposition 13 or Proposition 30 from 2012) the statewide vote is consistently 2-3% better than the regional vote. It is a good bet then that the state measure will poll better than the regional measure – over 65%.
• A state measure, depending on the revenue source, could raise about twice as much revenue as a regional measure – over $130 B over 30 years.

This is enough revenue to put over $65 B into statewide greenhouse gas and air pollution emission reductions and have over $65 B for statewide zero-emission, high-velocity, express rail infrastructure improvements - perhaps actually finish the CAHSR project in the Central Valley. Of course, if the measure had no sunset, the revenue would be greater.

  • This is a question that starts to get very real after November 2020 - and after recovery from the COVID-19 pandemonium.

    Do you want to help?


    Denny Zane for Move LA


    P.S: We want you to know that you are on our minds. Thank you for staying with us over the past 12 years. We hope that you and those you love are safe and healthy. What we are doing together by staying at home will make us stronger as a community and healthier as a community. Thank you for continuing to stay at home during these challenging times.

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