Transportation and affordable housing take center stage at California’s first cap-and-trade workshop

Ryan Wiggins Headshot

Jerry BrownAs part of his 2013 State of the State address, Governor Brown proclaimed global warming the greatest long-term threat to California. Our state’s long coastline, fresh water supply from snowpack, air quality, and agricultural productivity are threatened by rising sea levels, drought, and heat waves.

That’s why California is kicking its efforts to fight global warming into high gear with the launch of its greenhouse gas cap-and-trade auction program – a key part of its efforts to reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 under AB 32: Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.

Tuesday in Fresno, the California Air Resources Board, the California EPA, the Strategic Growth Council, the Business, Transportation, and Housing Agency, Caltrans, and several other state agencies held the first of three joint workshops to receive public input on how projected cap-and-trade revenues should be reinvested in our communities.

In addition to directly reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the new cap-and-trade program will generate billions of dollars in revenue that must be invested in projects that further reduce emissions and also improve public health, benefit disadvantaged communities, and spur economic development.

With 38% of all global warming emissions coming from the transportation sector, smart investments in expanding public transit, biking and walking networks, and accessible, affordable housing can reduce emissions and reduce the burdens on Californians' pocketbooks.

That’s why TransForm joined with other key allies at the hearing, including Housing California, the California Housing Partnership Corporation, and the Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program, to present our proposal for reinvesting cap-and-trade revenue in our communities where it will positively impact the lives of everyday citizens.

We’re proud to say that transportation was a major focus of both the agencies and the more than forty speakers who presented their ideas on how to invest cap-and-trade revenues in emissions reductions and healthy, prosperous communities.

Investments in transit, biking and walking, and accessible, affordable housing are sorely needed. Federal and state revenues for public transit have remained stagnant and even declined over the years, and federal funding for bicycle and pedestrian programs were cut by 33% in the most recent federal transportation law. As a result, transit agencies in California suffered more than $4 billion in cuts to transit from 2000 to 2009, while funding for biking and walking accounts for a paltry 1% of all transportation funding.

This underinvestment in our communities means fewer affordable, clean, and efficient transportation choices for Californians. At the same time, transit ridership is soaring and more and more citizens are demanding safe streets for biking and walking.

Cap-and-trade revenues can help fill these funding gaps and give us the transportation choices we need to lessen the impacts of $5-per-gallon gas, reduce the amount of time we spend stuck in traffic and the smog we breathe, and protect us from the worst impacts of global warming.

Two more workshops remain: one in Sacramento on February 25th and one in Los Angeles on February 27th. Come join us and let our leaders know that you support real transportation choices for all Californians.


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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