Category Archives: Engaging Latinos

Why Latinos are disproportionately affected by asthma …and what we can do

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This post was co-authored by Rachel Shaffer  and Declan Kingland, National Health Programs Coordinator for the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC).

Today in the United States, Latinos are three times more likely to die from asthma than other racial or ethnic groups. Latino children are 40 percent more likely to die from asthma than non-Latino whites, and nearly 1 in 10 Latino children under the age of 18 suffer from this chronic respiratory illness. Addressing the dangerous indoor and outdoor air pollution that is linked to asthma is critical for the health of Latino communities – and for all Americans.

Socioeconomics

Latinos are one of the poorest demographics in the United States, with roughly 1 in 4 Latinos living under the poverty level. Many Latinos also face challenges due to limited English-language proficiency, and in some cases, low levels of education. These issues can lead Latinos, particularly new immigrants, to low-paying jobs, often in the fields of agriculture, construction, and service.

Too often, these jobs expose workers to serious respiratory hazards from both indoor and outdoor air pollution, yet they frequently provide no healthcare benefits. For example, the toxic chemical formaldehyde, which is linked to asthma, can be found in glues, insulation, and wood products to which construction workers are disproportionately exposed. Asthma-related toxics can also be found in paints, cleaning products, carpets, and foam cushions. Read More »

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Por qué los latinos son afectados de manera desproporcionada por el asma… y qué podemos hacer al respecto

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Este blog fue escrito con coautores Rachel Shaffer de EDF y Declan Kingland, el Coordinador Nacional para programas de salud de la Liga de Ciudadanos Latinoamericanos Unidos (League of United Latin American Citizens, LULAC).

Hoy en día en los Estados Unidos, los latinos son el triple de propensos a morir de asma que otros grupos raciales o étnicos. Los niños latinos son 40% más proclives a morir de asma que los blancos no latinos y casi 1 de cada 10 niños latinos menores de 18 sufre de esta enfermedad respiratoria crónica.

Abordar la peligrosa contaminación del aire interior y exterior asociada con el asma es de importancia fundamental para la salud de las comunidades latinas – y para todos estadounidenses.

 

Socioeconomía

Los latinos son uno de los grupos poblacionales más pobres en los Estados Unidos, con casi 1 de cada 4 latinos por debajo del nivel de pobreza. Muchos latinos también enfrentan desafíos dado el escaso dominio del idioma inglés y, en algunos casos, los bajos niveles de educación. Estos problemas pueden conducir a los latinos, en especial a los inmigrantes nuevos, a empleos de salarios bajos, por lo general en las áreas de agricultura, construcción y servicios.

Dichos empleos suelen exponer a los trabajadores a serios peligros para la respiración tanto a causa de la contaminación del aire interior como exterior, incluso con frecuencia no brindan ningún beneficio de atención de la salud. Por ejemplo, la sustancia química tóxica formaldehído, que se asocia al asma, se puede encontrar en pegamentos, aislantes y productos de madera a los cuales los trabajadores de la construcción se exponen de manera desproporcionada. También se pueden hallar tóxicos relacionados con el asma en pinturas, productos de limpieza, alfombras y cojines de gomaespuma. Read More »

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Earth Day 2014: Time for Latino Leadership on Climate Change

Jorge-MadridToday is Earth Day, and the tens of millions of U.S. Latinos who breathe in the country’s dirtiest air, and often live in communities threatened by climate change, have reason to reflect and act!

2012 was the hottest year on record for the continental U.S., and 2013 was tied for the fourth hottest globally. When extreme weather like heat waves and super storms, which are projected to increase with climate change, hit the country’s crops, agricultural workers are devastated, poor people of color are disproportionately displaced from their homes, and those living with the worst air quality are even more at-risk for respiratory and heart related death (leading to some 7,000 additional fatalities each year).

And there’s more bad news regarding climate change. Take a look at these extreme heat projections in the West and Southwest U.S. for 2030. Or, check out sea-level rise projections in places like Miami and New York City for 2050, along with the corresponding threats for supercharged storms.

Notice something? Read More »

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Lo que la creciente comunidad latina podría lograr para las políticas del cambio climático

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En el 2012, los latinos fueron 1 de cada 10 votantes y ayudaron a decidir las elecciones presidenciales, estableciendo un margen récord de votantes.  El mes pasado en California, el estado más populoso de Estados Unidos, la población hispana sobrepasó la de blancos no hispanos.   El único otro estado a llegar a este punto es Nuevo México, cuya población hispana-latina es casi un diez por ciento mayor que la de blancos no hispanos.

Así como la población latina continúa a crecer en todo el país, así crece su influencia en áreas de política claves.  En aquellos estados que son campos de batalla de las elecciones, como Florida, Colorado y Nevada, los latinos representaron el 17, 14 y 18 por ciento de votantes en el 2012, respectivamente, lo que refleja un aumento con relación a elecciones anteriores.  La tendencia ha reavivado una animada discusión sobre la influencia de la comunidad latina estadounidense, el “gigante dormido” en la política del país.

También hay una tendencia política menos reconocida que está surgiendo entre los grupos más jóvenes y de más rápido crecimiento: la demanda entre latinos para actuar con el fin de hacerle frente al cambio climático.  Según una nueva encuesta nacional publicada el mes pasado por Natural Resources Defense Council y Latino Decisions: Read More »

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What the growing Latino community can do for climate politics

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In 2012 Latinos made up 1 in 10 voters and helped decide the Presidential election with record-setting voter margins. Last month in California, the most populous state in the nation, the Hispanic population surpassed that of non-Hispanic whites. The only other state to reach this benchmark is New Mexico, where the Latino population is almost 10% larger than that of non-Hispanic whites.

As the Latino population continues to grow across the country, so does its influence in key political arenas. In battleground states like Florida, Colorado, and Nevada, Latinos accounted for 17, 14, and 18 percent of voters in 2012, respectively, an increase from previous elections. The trend has reignited a lively discussion about the influence of the American Latino community, the “sleeping giant” of American politics.

There’s also a lesser-known political trend that is emerging among the country’s youngest and fastest-growing demographic: the demand among Latinos for action to address climate change. In a new national poll released last month by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Latino Decisions: Read More »

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13 for 13: The Stories that Defined California Environmental Leadership

There is never a dull moment on the California environmental policy scene, and 2013 was particularly action-packed.  Everywhere you turn there seems to be a new innovative solution or a fresh example of a company, city, organization, or individual making a profound difference in putting the Golden State on the path to a clean energy future.  Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has the privilege of being in the middle of many of these groundbreaking developments, and in the past 12 months, California has taken a number of exciting steps forward.

What follows is our “13 for (20)13” recap of the most consequential stories in the California climate change and energy policy world, in our own words.  From celebrating the one-year anniversary of a successful carbon market to forging partnerships with other states and countries to marking continued innovations and opportunities in clean energy and fuels, it has been quite a year.  Here’s to an even better 2014.

 

1. California’s Carbon Market Caps off Successful First Year of Auctions:

The results of California's fifth carbon auction were released today, marking an important environmental milestone for the state – one year since the debut of its cap-and-trade system.

2. California’s LCFS Ruling is a Win for Consumers and Alternative Fuels Companies:

Last week, we saw a big win for California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) – a regulation to diversify the state’s fuel mix with lower carbon sources of energy.  After almost a year of deliberation, the United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeals filed a decision in the case Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, et al. v. Corey, in favor of California.

3. LASER: Turning the climate threat into a story of opportunity for Los Angeles:

I’m an L.A. guy, so I like to think about things in epic story lines. And with today's launch of EDF and UCLA’s Luskin Center for Innovation new "LASER" maps (Los Angeles Solar & Efficiency Report), I think we’ve got a real blockbuster on our hands.

4. A Blueprint for Advancing California’s Strong Leadership on Global Climate Change:

A key reason California has become a global leader on climate change is its ability to successfully adopt the Global Warming Solutions Act, the state’s climate law that uses market-based tools to significantly reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emission levels. A group of tropical forest experts has now presented a blueprint for how California can secure significantly more reductions in global warming pollution than the law requires, while keeping pollution control costs down and helping stop the catastrophe of tropical deforestation.

5. Scoping Plan 2.0: Taking Action Today for a Clean Energy Future:

Today, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) released its draft 2013 Scoping Plan, the blueprint outlining how the State will address climate change over the next five years, reach its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and create a path for even deeper reductions beyond 2020.

6. Seeing Green: Emission Reducing Fuel Policies Help Lower Gas Prices:

Californians struggling with high gas prices should feel optimistic about the future.  A new memo [PDF] by economists from EDF and Chuck Mason, a prominent economist at the University of Wyoming, demonstrates that policies established to reduce emissions and help the state reach its climate change goals also help to arm consumers at the pump

7. At a Key Moment for Energy, California Should Seize Demand Response:

Traditionally, if an area’s population grows — or it loses a power plant — it needs more energy. But California and some other states can approach it differently and reduce the use of fossil fuels. Instead of asking, How can we add more energy?” the real question becomes “How can we reduce demand?”

8. Offset Market Alive and Well in California:

Congratulations to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) as they announced plans to issue the first CARB Offset Credits or ARBOCs.  These 600,000 metric tons of offsets helps the state move closer towards our emissions reductions goals.  Compliance entities, such as utility and oil and gas companies, can use these offsets to meet up to 8% of their compliance obligation

9. Environment: California didn't do so badly this year:

Despite some particularly unexplainable losses if you care about protecting the environment, the California Legislature made progress in 2013. The range of bills on the governor's desk awaiting his signature confirms that California remains the stalwart energy and climate leader in the country.

10. Historic Agreement Demonstrates Broad Commitment to Build Clean Energy Economy:

With the stroke of a pen, North American efforts to combat climate change and promote clean energy reached a new level today.

11. Hopeful signs for U.S. and Chinese Cooperation on Climate Change:

The past week has offered a thrilling glimpse into the future for the millions of people around the U.S. and across the world who are yearning for real solutions to climate change.  On June 18, Shenzhen, an economically-vibrant city of 15 million on the South China Sea, launched the first of seven Chinese regional pilot carbon market systems slated to begin by the end of 2014.

12. Major California Refineries Logging Big Pollution Reductions Under AB 32:

It is well-documented that petroleum refineries release large amount of pollutants that are harmful to the environment and make people sick.  In California, these refineries are among the largest sources of carbon dioxide, accounting for 7 of the top 10 sources for climate pollution. According to data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, refineries can also emit large amount of toxic compounds, including carcinogens and respiratory irritants.

13. Ruling gives bright green light for investment in pollution reduction projects in California:

California’s landmark clean energy bill AB 32 received a big boost today from the San Francisco California Superior Court in the case Citizen’s Climate Lobby et. al., v. California Air Resources Board.

Also posted in Cap and trade, Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32, Linkage, Low Carbon Fuel Standard, Offsets | 1 Response, comments now closed

LASER: Turning the climate threat into a story of opportunity for Los Angeles

Jorge-Madrid(This post originally appeared on EDF Voices)

I’m an L.A. guy, so I like to think about things in epic story lines. And with today's launch of EDF and UCLA’s Luskin Center for Innovation new "LASER" maps (Los Angeles Solar & Efficiency Report), I think we’ve got a real blockbuster on our hands.

The LASER story opens with a team of top scientists warning us of an imminent threat – climate change – that will cause widespread disruption and human suffering if left unmitigated.

Utilizing the groundbreaking work of Dr. Alex Hall and the UCLA Institute for the Environment and Sustainability, the LASER maps illustrate what climate change is going to look like in the Los Angeles region in just a few decades.

By mid-century, the region will experience a tripling in the number of extreme heat days in the downtown and urban core, and a quadrupling in the number of extreme heat days in the valleys and at high elevations.

The plot thickens as we get a clearer sense of the communities that are most at risk – those already dealing with bad air quality, lack of adequate green space and tree canopy, poor access to public transit, and other challenges like high unemployment levels, poverty and public health hazards.LAclimate_TempRise

This is the part of the story where we could give up in the face of seemingly impossible odds…but that’s not how we roll in Los Angeles.

The LASER maps also introduce a powerful narrative about how we can fight back by  mitigating the carbon pollution
driving climate change, building community resiliency through investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy, and seizing opportunities for economic growth that reduce vulnerability.

Utilizing sophisticated GIS mapping tools and other data, LASER shows the tremendous environmental and economic potential for rooftop solar in Los Angeles County:

  • Nearly 29,000 local jobs in solar panel installation could be created if merely 5% of the rooftop solar energy generating potential in LA County was realized.
  • If LA rooftops were able to capture that 5% of solar capacity they would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1.25 million tons, equivalent to taking 250,000 cars off the road annually.

LAclimate_JobsAnother LASER plot line involves energy efficiency, one of the cheapest ways to reduce carbon pollution and lower utility bills at the same time. The LASER maps show that:

  • Nearly 1.5 million buildings in LA County were built before energy efficiency codes went into effect, which means…
  • 80% of all buildings in LA County have elevated potential for cost-saving, energy efficiency investments.

If this were actually a Hollywood blockbuster, we would probably cut to a final, climactic showdown and a dramatic rescue from impending doom. But unlike Hollywood, there is no pre-written ending to the climate crisis.

To mitigate the worst effects of climate change, and prepare vulnerable communities for the climate impacts already on their way, we need serious investment and deployment of clean energy and low-carbon infrastructure – particularly in those communities that will be hit the hardest.LAclimate_Buildings_2

LASER provides tools that can help elected officials and advocates pinpoint the communities that are most vulnerable to climate change, identify the region’s clean energy investment potential, and then develop policies and funding mechanism to unleash it. EDF is here to help in that effort, and look forward to supporting our friends and allies in Los Angeles who are working to make the clean energy potential profiled in LASER a real-life success story.

In the end, LASER tells a tale of threat and opportunity in Los Angeles. Now it’s time to get to work to make sure this epic has a positive ending.

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It’s Time for Latino Leadership on Climate Change

(This post first appeared on EDF voices)

Source: Thomas Hawk/Flickr

I love California in the summertime, and Fourth of July weekend is one of my favorite holidays. But it is getting excruciatingly HOT out here, and according to the best science, it is going to get much hotter.

This past weekend the West Coast broke nearly every temperature record on the books, well ahead of August and September, which are usually the hottest months of the year.

And last year was the hottest year on record for the continental United States. Crops were devastated, cities were hit by supercharged storms, and people, mostly the poor, suffered and died amid some of the most destructive extreme weather events in our history. All told, the United States spent more than $110 Billion on weather related disasters in 2012.

There’s more bad news ahead. Extreme heat projections for the U.S. in 2030, based on research from Stanford University, shows that the West and Southwest are going to get really, really hot!

Those regions, incidentally, are going to have the largest concentrations of people of color in the country, and Latinos will be the fastest growing part of that demographic.  It doesn’t take a scientist to see that two freight trains – Latino population growth and extreme weather driven by climate change- are heading directly towards each other.

So will the climate change story end in disaster?  Or could this be an opportunity to adapt to and overcome a great challenge?  Latino leadership will be key to answering this question.

National polling data tells us that Latino voters see that something is terribly wrong, and overwhelmingly support action to fix it. Seventy-four percent of Latinos polled earlier this year believe climate change is a “serious problem”, almost 10 percent higher than the national average among all American adults.  Another poll tells us that 86% of Latinos strongly support President Obama taking action to reduce pollution that causes climate change. What’s more, gender, income, education, nativity and even party affiliation do not significantly move the needle on Latinos’ commitment to tackling climate change.

Now for the exciting part: adapting to climate change will present one of the greatest opportunities to rebuild and enhance our infrastructure and economy, and to improve our public health. Why? Because adaptation will require major investments in clean energy and energy efficiency, as well as more green space and trees in our cities and more reliable (and low-carbon) transportation. We also need to stop burning the fossil fuels that are cooking our planet and polluting our air.

Got Sun? 

For a start, why not begin capturing all that free solar energy with rooftop solar panels?  This will reduce the strain on our electricity grid, and allow communities to stay cool without breaking the bank on the energy costs of air conditioning. Better still, building out solar will be good for the economy. In California, my home state, 92% of Latino voters want to increase the use of renewable energy and 87% agreed that “growing the state’s solar energy industry will create new jobs in California.”

I’ve written before that the Clean Energy economy is an opportunity for Latinos, creating new demand for goods and services, new businesses and new jobs. After all, somebody has to design and install all those solar panels, plant the trees, weatherize the homes and businesses, and operate and maintain our mass transit systems. That’s an easy argument to make to Latinos voters, 86% of whom said that they would prefer the country to invest in clean, renewable energy sources rather than fossil fuels.

Last week I joined Latino leaders from Voces Verdes and the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO) to have a conversation about the need for better and cleaner infrastructure in a warming world. And President Obama made it clear last week that his administration will double down on climate change, calling for all of us to “seize the future.”

As the polls show, the President has overwhelming support for his initiative from Latinos in this country. It’s time for Latino leaders to follow suit by being at the forefront of those calling for action on climate change.

 

 

 

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Engaging Latino parents in California in the fight for clean air

(Cross posted from EDF Voices

This post was written by Jose Sigala, a field manager for Moms Clean Air Force. He also leads EDF's Climate Initiative in Los Angeles and the Central Valley in California. 

Source: Moms Clean Air Force

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I heard the Moms Clean Air Force was launching a new initiative to engage Latino moms and dads in the greater Los Angeles and the Central Valley regions (in both English and Spanish) I was thrilled. Having grown up in Los Angeles, I always knew I wanted to help spark a greater conversation about what climate change means to the Latino community and their families – and the long-term problems they would face if we didn’t address it.

We know that climate change is already causing an increase in extreme weather that will only get worse in the coming decades, leading to more intense heat waves and drought conditions – which exacerbate already poor air quality and vulnerability to air pollution.

So why focus on Latino parents in LA and the Central Valley? These two regions have the dirtiest air in the nation, according to the American Lung Association, and combined they account for 7 of the 10 most polluted cities in the country. These regions are also home to an overwhelmingly large Latino population, in some cities reaching as high as 75 percent of all residents. In many cases, these predominantly Latino communities are also well below the poverty line and suffer from high unemployment and a host of other challenges like a lack of basic infrastructure and green space, poor public health outcomes, and little or no access to healthcare.  All of these challenges, combined with the onslaught of extreme weather and air pollution, spell disaster for many families.

But despite these challenges, there is a strong fabric of community resiliency and a history of Latino moms and dads fighting for the health of their families and our future generations. Groups like the Mothers of East LA, Mujeres de La Tierra, Central California Environmental Justice Network and Latinos Unidos for Clean Air (LUCA), and similar community groups have long been fighting for social and environmental justice.

With MCAF, I’ll be building upon this already rich network of moms and dads who are taking action against pollution, recruiting Latino parents to educate and discuss strategies on how to best combat the threats of climate change to public health and safety, as well as identify opportunities to increase community involvement and resiliency.

MCAF will also seek to uplift and direct this chorus of voices –bilingual and both online and in more traditional venues– to state, local, and federal lawmakers who are making decisions that affect all of our children and communities. As someone who has deep roots in both Los Angeles and the Central Valley, I’m proud to be leading this initiative. For years, I’ve made it my life’s work to be a community leader and organizer, from serving as the president of my neighborhood council to directing legislative district offices and activities of elected officials.

But as a father of two beautiful daughters, the opportunity I’ve been given with MCAF is really a personal one. I want to know I’ve done everything I can to leave them and their children a better planet and provided Latino parents with the foundation to build healthier communities for generations to come.

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A Triple Bottom Line for the Central Valley: Environment, Economy, Equity

This week the Air Resources Board (ARB) held a public workshop in Fresno, California, to gather public input on ways to invest proceeds from California’s cap-and-trade auction.  ARB heard from a wide variety of individuals and organizations with bright ideas on how to spend this money on projects that can lower greenhouse gases (GHG) and maximize the benefit to disadvantaged communities who are the most vulnerable to climate change and pollution impacts.

I represented EDF at the workshop, and an extended version of my public comments follows:

 

Good evening, my name is Jorge Madrid, and I am speaking as a representative from the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) – I’m also speaking as a community member with roots in the Central Valley, where my family has lived for the past 11 years.

As I’m sure most of you already know, California’s Central Valley is home to four of the five most polluted cities in America, according to data from the American Lung Association.  And for those of you, like me, who have family members in the Valley who work outdoors every day, you know that the dual threat of dirty air and extreme heat is a recipe for poor health and costly medical bills.  We can’t afford not to act, and I am glad that the Air Resources Board is taking these bold steps to clean the air and fight climate change.

EDF is committed to working with the strong coalition of organizations from across the state, representing a wide array of interests and stakeholders, who are committed to seeing that proceeds from the cap-and-trade auction are directed to projects that will advance the goals of AB 32 in an effective and equitable manner.

We especially want to see projects that can deliver a “triple bottom line,” which benefit people, the planet, and the economy.  We know that all three of these things can grow together, and this is a fantastic opportunity to lead the rest of the country.

There are many examples of triple bottom line investments; here are a few that should rise to the top:

  • The ARB should prioritize smart investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy.  These investments will reduce greenhouse gasses, while also providing savings on utility bills, and creating jobs in the construction sector – which is still experiencing disproportionately high unemployment levels in this region.  Further, 89% of the materials used in building retrofits are manufactured right here in the U.S. and 91% of the firms performing retrofits are small businesses.   There is no reason why we can’t grow these jobs and businesses in the Valley.

Schools and community colleges are a good target for investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy, because lowering a school’s utility bill frees up resources for other expenses like more teachers and computers. An upgraded “green” school uses 33 % less energy and 32% less water on average, saving $100,000 per year on operating costs – according to the US Green Building Council.

The Madera Golden Valley Unified School District is already taking action, utilizing renewable energy to help combat constrained budgets. It purchased a 1.1-megawatt solar photovoltaic (PV) system that supplies 80 percent of the district’s total annual electricity consumption – preventing 2.3 million pounds of carbon dioxide pollution each year, and is expected to achieve up to $250,000 in cumulative energy savings by 2017 and up to $9 million in cumulative energy savings after 25 years of operation.

  • Cleaner transportation, both operations and equipment, should also be prioritized for investment. Nearly 40% of all GHG in the state are from the transportation sector, which is also the largest contributor to harmful smog and particulate pollution that aggravate asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

During the hot summer days with the highest levels of pollution, youth in the Valley are 69% more likely to be admitted to the emergency room for asthma, according the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. Each of those ER visits costs an average of about $1,500, and hospitalizations can cost 10 times that.

Investing auction revenue in mass transit, cleaner fuels, and cleaner vehicles, can help get folks out of their cars and reduce harmful pollution, while also increasing mobility and equity for people who can't afford to drive.

  • Of course the Central Valley’s biggest employer is agriculture, and no conversation would be complete without mentioning the potential for GHG reductions from this sector.  EDF is committed to working with scientists, policy makers, and farmers to evaluate the best ideas and practices.

One idea is to incentivize the preservation of agricultural lands which will reduce urban sprawl and the increased vehicle trips that come with it.  Another idea can include incentivizing better fertilizer practices, which will reduce the release of nitrous oxide into the atmosphere, a potent GHG, as well as reduce the release of nitrates and other toxins into the water supply.  These kinds of investments can benefit farmers who own the land, and promote cleaner air and water that helps the people, like my family and friends, who pick the food.

These are just a few examples of the “triple bottom line” we can create with smart investments.  We can improve our environment, improve our health, and grow our economy.

We support an ongoing discussion of the best use of auction proceeds, and feel confident that good ideas will rise to the top. We want to help make sure the investments, and the process for choosing them, are sound and include the best thinking and analysis possible, as well as the largest array of voices and stakeholders as possible.

Also posted in Cap and trade, Clean Energy, Climate, Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32, Jobs | Comments closed