California's Air Resources Board calls for reform of the state's transportation system

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CARBHow can California best leverage the new revenue from our state’s cap-and-trade climate program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? According to the Draft Investment Plan that the California Air Resources Board (CARB) released late yesterday, the answer is: transform the transportation system.

No, we didn’t make that up! Here’s a direct quote explaining why CARB staff believe clean transportation and sustainable communities should receive the largest share of cap-and-trade funding:

"The transportation sector is the largest contributor of both GHGs and criteria air pollutants, and it is clear that California’s transportation system will need to be transformed to achieve GHG emissions reduction targets and air quality standards."

As a result, the CARB plan outlines a set of strategies to direct cap-and-trade auction revenues to public transportation, biking and walking projects, and affordable housing near transit. It also calls for providing support to regions in planning and implementing their Sustainable Communities Strategies (such as Plan Bay Area).

TransForm has been spearheading a broad coalition in support of these types of investments, as described in our Sustainable Communities for All Platform. The platform has been endorsed by more than 50 leading transportation, health, economic, and labor organizations.

While the details must still be worked out, we applaud CARB staff on their efforts to identify investment priorities that will most effectively help California meet our goals for reducing climate pollution. As the draft plan turns into a specific budget proposal over the next few weeks, we urge state leaders to ensure the goals and priorities of this draft remain front and center.

The next stop for both the CARB report and TransForm is the state capitol. Next Wednesday, April 24, TransForm is coordinating over one hundred advocates from around the state to meet with their representatives in Sacramento about the demand for real transportation and housing choices in California communities, and how cap-and-trade funding can be a critical piece of the puzzle. CARB will hold a hearing on April 25.

In May, the Department of Finance will submit a final investment plan to the Legislature. By May 10, the Governor will release a state budget that includes proposed expenditures from cap-and-trade proceeds. The legislature will debate that and pass a final budget in June.

While this year’s appropriations will be approximately $600 million, that amount should grow significantly in 2015, when transportation fuels come under the cap and more of the allowances are auctioned instead of given out free. 

We have a watershed opportunity before us. CARB’s Draft Investment Plan is an auspicious sign that momentum is on our side. But it is critical that the legislature sees how many people and organizations throughout the state support these investments. 

That’s why we’re circulating a petition to state leaders in support of funding public transportation, safer walking and biking, and affordable housing near transit with cap-and-trade revenues. Please add your name now and join our growing movement for real transportation choices in California.

Click here to read our press release on the CARB report.


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TransForum is the blog of TransForm, California's leading transportation advocate. For more about our work, including ways you can take action and contribute, visit