2/27/2013: Cap-and-Trade: Southern California Leaders Call for Investing Billions in Public Transportation, Sustainable Communities

Cap-and-Trade: Southern California Leaders Call for Investing Billions in Public Transportation, Sustainable Communities

Ryan Wiggins, Cap and Trade Campaign Manager
[email protected]
760-707-7019 cell

February 2, 2013

Los Angeles – Despite its longstanding reputation as the center of car culture, the Los Angeles region is rapidly transforming how people get around through ambitious investments in public transportation, biking and walking. So it was no surprise today when leaders from across Southern California gathered at a California Air Resources Board (CARB) workshop in Los Angeles to advocate for investing potentially billions of dollars of future greenhouse gas cap-and-trade revenues in real transportation choices that could accelerate public transportation expansion and reduce emissions and transportation costs.

California’s cap-and-trade program is a primary strategy for reducing the State’s greenhouse gas emissions to meet emissions reduction targets as required by the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act. The largest portion of the state’s emissions comes from the transportation sector – nearly 40 percent. For California and Los Angeles to achieve long-term emissions reductions, they will need sustained investment in expanding public transit, biking and walking, and ensuring affordable and transit-accessible housing.

 “We need investment in transit, especially transit operating budgets, and active transportation infrastructure to support the GHG emission reduction goals of SB 375. Federal and state transportation funding has been stagnant and even declining for years”, said Denny Zane, Executive Director of Move LA. “Putting this new revenue source to work expanding transit systems and service, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure with affordable housing opportunities nearby will accelerate our efforts to provide our communities with new, clean, affordable, and efficient transportation options.”

More than a dozen groups joined with Move LA at the hearing to urge the state to adopt an investment plan that expands transportation and housing choices and supports disadvantaged communities.. The proposal, entitled “Sustainable Communities for All,” provides a pathway to leveraging cap-and-trade auction revenues to tackle the greatest source of greenhouse gas emissions – transportation – while simultaneously addressing the state’s triple crises of mobility, jobs and economic vitality, and health for all Californians.

“Investing cap-and-trade revenues toward providing more transportation choices is a win-win for our environment, our mobility and our economy”, said Hilary Norton, Executive Director of Fixing Angelenos Stuck in Traffic (FAST). “Our region needs affordable and efficient alternatives to auto dependency, which also improve air quality, public health, and free up additional income for community investment and economic development.”

Transportation was also a major emphasis of the Draft Concept Paper outlined by agency officials present - including the CARB, Cal EPA, the Strategic Growth Council, and the Business, Transportation, and Housing Agency. The document outlines public transportation, biking and walking, and housing as key areas where the state intends to dedicate cap-and-trade auction revenues.

Despite the LA region’s reputation for traffic and smog-choked freeways, the region accounts for nearly half of all transit trips taken each year in the state. More than 15 percent of all local trips are by foot or bicycle. Yet since 2000, transit agencies across the state have suffered more than $4 billion in cuts, and bicycle and pedestrian funding still amounts to only one percent of all transportation funding.

The greenhouse gas and economic benefits of investing in communities served by robust transit are huge. According to TransForm’s 2009 report Windfall for All, individual households in the region that have excellent access to transit emit on average 38 percent less CO2 and save $3,600 in transportation costs each year.

By June 15th the state will adopt a budget outlining how the first three years of auction revenues will be invested. Transportation leaders throughout the state expect that public transit and sustainable communities will be a major focus of these new funds.

“For decades we focused the majority of our transportation resources on building out our freeway and road networks, and now we’re feeling the burn of climate change and congestion,” said Ryan Wiggins, TransForm’s Cap-and-Trade Campaign Manager. “Cap-and-trade offers an incredible opportunity to strategically address climate change by offering clean, affordable transportation choices to millions of people. It is great to see our state leaders proposing a program that will improve our health and economy while dealing with our biggest global threat..” 

# # #