Tumultuous Budget Surplus Year Ends With Critical EJ Investments

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

Contact: Raquel Mason, raquel@caleja.org

Advocates praise funding for resilience centers, TCC program in a year of legislative shortfalls 

September 9, 2021 | Sacramento, CAToday, after months of hard-fought advocacy by environmental justice organizations, the Legislature passed SB 170 and SB 155, concluding budget negotiations for 2021. As Californians face a looming eviction cliff and an escalating climate crisis, legislators in Sacramento voted to allocate $585 million to critical environmental justice programs with an additional $600 million in federal funding earmarked for a Just Transition through the Community Economic Resilience Fund (CERF). 

These budget bills dedicate $420 million to the Transformative Climate Communities Program over the next three years and $100 million for Community Resilience Centers over two years, representing critical investments for working class communities and communities of color on the frontlines of poverty and pollution. 

“As California responds to escalating wildfires, drought, and extreme heat, we must recognize and prioritize the leadership and needs of communities on the frontlines of climate change. By embracing our holistic vision for resilience centers, this year’s budget takes a huge step in that direction. We are excited to shape this community-led solution to ensure our neighborhoods are equipped with the tools and resources they need to thrive in the face of disasters,” said Amee Raval with Asian Pacific Environmental Network. “The approved funding is a strong foundation, but it is not the end of our fight to secure investments in the communities hit hardest by climate change. We look forward to working with the Governor and Legislature to ensure this innovative program reaches all of California’s environmental justice communities.”

“The Transformative Climate Communities (TCC) Program empowers communities that have been most impacted by environmental racism to choose for themselves the projects that will improve their health and resilience,” said Franco Garcia with the Environmental Health Coalition. “With $420 million for the TCC Program in this year’s state budget, there will be more opportunities for communities like Barrio Logan and Logan Heights to provide affordable housing, green spaces, and cultural centers for climate resilience education in our communities.”

While advocates praised the TCC and resilience center funding, they were disappointed by the insufficient funding for the Low-Income Weatherization Program (LIWP) and funding for false climate solutions such as dairy biogas operations.

“We are glad to see that LIWP funding appears in the 2021 budget but are disappointed with  the inadequate funding for this critical program. LIWP is one of the most successful whole-building energy efficiency and electrification programs in the state—the only one targeting low-income and disadvantaged communities, including farmworker communities,” said Alexis Sutterman with California Environmental Justice Alliance Action (CEJA Action). “As a monumental program that helps slash greenhouse gases while making homes cleaner, safer, and more resilient, LIWP requires more funding to reach all who need it, as evidenced by the program’s long waitlists. We urge the State to sufficiently invest in LIWP and commit to centering equity in the clean energy transition.”

“We are glad to see the Legislature acknowledge the need for further research and oversight of any continued taxpayer subsidies for dairy digesters. If done right, this research will confirm that factory farm gas is not a climate solution. Biogas harms local communities and worsens air pollution and water quality, all while extending the unsustainable natural gas and large-scale dairy industries,” said J Jordan, with Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability. “We support the limitation for dairy biogas eligibility in the state’s new Climate Catalyst Revolving Loan Fund. We continue to oppose any additional funding for dairy digesters including the $32 million in General Funds this year and the $48 million in General Funds for livestock methane reduction for future years.”

Environmental justice organizers commended allocation of $600 million in federal funds to a Just Transition program, but urged the state to center community voices to ensure equitable outcomes and greater accountability to impacted workers and residents.

“We are thankful for the funds that the state has earmarked to support a Just Transition. We have no time to waste as Kern County workers continue to be displaced and the climate crisis worsens every day,” said Ingrid Brostrom with the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment. “CERF must center frontline community and worker needs as California weans itself off the use and production of fossil fuels. California must prioritize clean, high road jobs that put people to work while addressing the many environmental hazards that low-income residents and communities of color face.”

“While we celebrate this funding for environmental justice programs in the 2021-22 budget, the state must expand the scope and depth of investments in environmental justice communities,” said Raquel Mason with California Environmental Justice Alliance Action (CEJA Action). “We urge lawmakers to legislate boldly and equitably to address the devastating and overlapping impacts of the climate, housing, and environmental health crises. Every budget, not just a historic surplus budget, should prioritize transformative funding for residents on the frontlines of poverty and pollution.” 

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California Environmental Justice Alliance Action (CEJA Action) engages and mobilizes bilingual and monolingual non-English speaking Asian, Black and Latinx voters to take action for climate and environmental justice with the following communities

  • APEN Action – Oakland and Richmond
  • CAUSE Action Fund – Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties
  • CBE Action – Oakland, Richmond, Southeast Los Angeles, and Wilmington
  • CCAEJ Action – Riverside and San Bernardino Counties
  • CRPE Action – Kern County 
  • Environmental Health & Justice Campaign – San Diego County
  • Latinxs for Environmental Justice – San Francisco’s Mission District
  • SCOPE Action Fund – South and Southeast Los Angeles

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