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December 1
1929 - Saugus train robber Thomas Vernon apprehended in Pawnee, Okla. [story]
Tom Vernon


SACRAMENTO – A new report details how cap-and-trade investments are reducing climate-changing emissions while pumping money into local economies and improving public health and the environment across California — especially in disadvantaged and low-income communities.

Nearly $1.4 billion in new funding last year went to projects across all of the state’s 58 counties, almost double the $720 million spent in 2017.

Projects ranged from creating more fire-resilient communities and ecosystems to installing water-efficient irrigation systems on farms to building more affordable housing and new public transit lines.

The annual report tracking the progress of California Climate Investments was released Tuesday by the California Air Resources Board and the California Department of Finance.

“The investment of cap-and-trade proceeds is reaching every corner of the state, cutting climate pollution and improving air quality – and quality of life – for millions of Californians, especially in the state’s hardest hit communities,” CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols said. “California is showing how cutting climate changing gases from the largest polluters in the state can also protect the environment and clean the air in communities of concern.”

The state’s cap-and-trade program, which began in 2012, was re-authorized and improved in 2017 to ensure California continues to meet its ambitious climate change goals and that billions of dollars in auction proceeds keep flowing to communities across the state through California Climate Investments.

To date, $9.3 billion in cap-and-trade proceeds has been appropriated to 20 state agencies that have distributed $3.4 billion to projects that are either completed or under way across the state. These “implemented” funds have leveraged an additional $10.8 billion from other sources.

Innovative Projects Statewide
From rebates for electric and plug-in vehicles to energy efficiency and solar installations that are reducing home energy costs, more than 125,000 individual projects were completed in 2018.

Among the projects:

* Installation of a rooftop solar photovoltaic system at The Allison, an affordable housing property in San Diego, one of the more than 70,000 projects installing energy efficiency measures across the state.

* Replacing three old, dirty diesel school buses at the Ukiah United School District with three electric school buses through the Rural School Bus Pilot Project. Overall, 60 new clean school buses were delivered to rural school districts throughout the state.

* Expanding a network of community air-quality monitors operated by Casa Familiar in San Ysidro, one of 28 community-based organizations and tribes statewide receiving grants to engage residents in efforts to reduce local air pollution.

Last year, the state doubled the number of affordable housing units under contract for construction to 3,200 units, and tripled the number of trees planted in urban areas to 50,000 trees, compared to the previous year.

Cap-and-trade funding was also used to create more fire-resilient communities and ecosystems. These wildfire resilience projects create fire breaks around communities and use thinning and prescribed fire to remove flammable vegetation in fire-prone areas of the state, especially the western edge of the Sierra National Forest.

Prioritizing California’s Most Vulnerable Communities
Nearly $2 billion of the $3.3 billion in implemented investments, or 57 percent, is benefitting the state’s most vulnerable populations, exceeding the 35 percent investment minimum required under statute.

Senate Bill 535 established a minimum investment to benefit communities designated as disadvantaged by the California Environmental Protection Agency when the cap-and-trade investments began. In 2016, Assembly Bill 1550 replaced and expanded those minimums to include low-income communities and low-income households.

The latest report shows state agencies are exceeding those requirements, with 39 percent of investments benefitting and located within disadvantaged communities. Additionally, 16 percent of investments benefit and are located in low-income communities.

Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Other Benefits
Projects funded to date are achieving the overall goal of California Climate Investments by reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 36.5 million metric tons, roughly equivalent to taking eight million cars off the road for a year.

The report includes statistics on a variety of other environmental and economic benefits from these investments.

For example, outcomes expected over the life of the projects that received funding in 2018 alone include:

* Conserving 85 billion gallons of water through water efficiency projects, enough to supply the cities of Sacramento and San Diego for a year.

* Saving 161 gigawatt hours of electricity through energy efficiency projects, enough to power more than 15,000 homes for a year.

* Planting more than 3.6 million trees over time through urban greening and other forest health programs.

The report also features profiles that highlight the impact these investments are having on individuals and communities, particularly those in California’s most disadvantaged areas.

Read the annual report here.

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