State Laws AB 32, SB 535 Bring Hope to Underserved Neighborhoods
SACRAMENTO – Ethnic and diverse businesses must play a key role in the state’s efforts to fight climate change and clean the air, a broad coalition of ethnic business leaders and community advocates told legislators and the governor today. Hosted by the Asian & Pacific Legislative Caucus, Legislative Black Caucus, Latino Legislative Caucus and The Greenlining Institute, the “Good Economy Day of Action” kicked off with a morning briefing followed by meetings with key legislators and the governor’s office.
“As businesspeople, we prosper when our communities prosper,” said Azizza Goines, President and CEO of the Sacramento Black Chamber of Commerce. “By directing at least one quarter of cap-and-trade revenues into economically disadvantaged, highly polluted communities, SB 535 is bringing hope to long-neglected neighborhoods. This is a model that federal policymakers and other states should follow.”
To highlight the benefits of California clean energy policies, The Greenlining Institute created UpliftCA.org (English) and es.UpLiftCA.org (Spanish).
“California’s growing clean energy economy not only fights climate change, it’s already putting Californians to work in good jobs, helping California generate jobs faster than any other state,” said Greenlining Institute Environmental Equity Program Manager Alvaro Sanchez. “Today over 430,000 Californians work in energy efficiency, solar power and related fields -- more Californians than in aerospace or movies, TV and radio combined. This is the economy of the future, and if we do it right, it can lift up neighborhoods and communities that have struggled with high unemployment and dirty air.”
Part of “doing it right,” participants said, must involve maintaining funding for projects covered by SB 535, which brings clean energy investments to underserved communities, and SB 1275, the Charge Ahead Initiative, which makes clean transportation affordable to low-income communities through programs like car-sharing and clean vehicle rebates. They also urged passage of the EmPower California Act, AB 865, which would level the playing field for businesses owned by women, disabled veterans, people of color and LGBTQ individuals in projects funded by the California Energy Commission.
State officials heard the message loud and clear and understood the need to strengthen efforts to increase diversity in the energy sector. "The Energy Commission understands that we must make it a priority to work with all of California's diverse communities,” said Commission Chair Robert B. Weisenmiller. “That means not only reaching out to a more diverse population regarding energy issues, but more importantly to build California's intellectual and human capital by promoting grants and contracts to diverse businesses as well as making a conscious effort to target funding to low income communities. I am pleased to see this commitment reflected in the Energy Commission’s recently approved Diversity Policy Resolution.”
“We strongly urge legislators to support SB 865,” said Michael Chan, president of ASIAN, Inc. “Diverse small businesses are the backbone of California’s economy, and we need to make sure they get a fair shot at clean energy contracts and opportunities.”
Mark Herbert, California Project Manager for Small Business Majority, added, "We know from our scientific polling that California small business owners strongly support transitioning to a stronger clean energy economy. It's good for their bottom lines and for their communities."
“California has a lot of forward-thinking programs to bring the benefits of the clean energy economy to neighborhoods hit first and worst by pollution and poverty,” said Greenlining Institute Environmental Equity Director Vien Truong. “But to make the promise real those programs must be funded and given priority.”