Written by The Business Journal Staff
Pointing out the benefits of cap-and-trade programs Fresno has tapped into recently to help improve bus rapid transit services in the city as well as access to affordable housing, Brown thanked state lawmakers for passing the latest series of climate change legislation.
“These cap-and-trade investments will help spur innovations of all kinds to curb carbon pollution,” he said. “With these bills, we will help communities hard hit by pollution and climate change.”
Just before signing the package of landmark legislation, Brown acknowledged the importance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the Central Valley. “If this climate change gets worse,” he said, “it can be so hot here it would be unlivable.”
The invitation-only signing ceremony took place on the roof of the city’s Spiral Parking Garage in Downtown Fresno, a backdrop chosen by city officials to spotlight ongoing construction activity related to both high-speed rail and the Fulton Street Reconstruction Project.
Before the governor spoke, Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin called Fresno “Ground Zero” for major transportation construction projects across the state. “If we’re successful with these projects,” Swearengin added, the Valley will see a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over the next 20 years.
During his brief pre-signing remarks, Governor Brown also hailed the city’s recent progress on various transportation projects. “Fresno can lead not just the state but the whole world,” he said.
Then, flanked by Mayor Swearengin, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and a host of state lawmakers including Valley Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula, Brown signed:
• AB 1613, this year’s $900 million cap-and-trade appropriation.
• SB 859, which provides statutory provisions for AB 1613’s expenditure plan.
• AB 1550, which modifies the current requirement that 25 percent of auction proceeds benefit disadvantaged communities, with 10 percent spent directly in those communities. The new rules require at least 25 percent of funds go to projects within and benefitting disadvantaged communities and at least 10 percent for low-income households.
• AB 2722, which directs cap-and-trade funds to a competitive grant program administered by the Strategic Growth Council for greenhouse gas emission reduction projects that provide local economic, environmental and health benefits to disadvantaged communities.
Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles), author of AB 1550, said the legislation will help “close the ‘green’ divide we see between the coast and Valley.”
Assemblymember Autumn R. Burke (D-Inglewood), who penned AB 2722, said the legislation would result in “a big shift” in California’s environmental policy. “For far too long, low-income communities have been shut out” of receiving greenhouse gas reduction funding, she added.
“This package of bills ensures these funds will be used where they are most needed,” Arambula said. “I’m thrilled to see an investment of this magnitude. This is a significant step for the Valley and will position us as a leader in innovation and economic development as we address the challenges of climate change.”