This is Essential Politics for August 2017. Find our daily look at California political and government news over here.
Now that lawmakers have extended the cap-and-trade program, it’s time for them to divvy up the money generated by the sale of pollution permits.
Most of the revenue is already being routed to affordable housing, mass transit and building the bullet train. But there’s still at least $1.4 billion available, which includes some money left over from the last fiscal year and more cash expected to roll in over the next one.
Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) wants to spend roughly $1 billion to replace old, dirty engines. In an interview, he suggested it’s a plan with potentially broad appeal: new tractors in rural areas, better trucks for middle class workers and incentives for drivers to buy electric vehicles.
“We have a historic opportunity to bring businesses, conservatives and liberals alike together on the issue of clean air,” De León said.
There are many details left to work out, starting with the specific price tag and how the money would be doled out, but the proposal is designed to alleviate one of California’s most significant environmental challenges. Pollution from cars and trucks are a health hazard around the state, and they’re the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.
De León said the state needs to make a bigger investment to chip away at the problem.
“The free market forces by themselves will not correct these gross inequities,” he said. “They must be driven by policies.”