January 12, 2022
The following is a statement by Elected Officials to Protect America (EOPA) California on the Governor’s proposed budget. Specifically, EOPA California would like to see a possible infrastructure bond to include the climate crisis programs that have been delayed or axed:
Since Christmas, no fewer than eight extreme weather atmospheric rivers have bombarded California. Another is on the way. Coastal communities have been hit the hardest with apocalyptic floods, landslides, downed trees, power outages and tragically the loss of life. The past year’s historic drought, heat waves and fires weakened the soil setting the stage for the worst possible scenarios from the atmospheric rivers’ onslaught. This is what the climate emergency looks like for Californians. This is why lawmakers must do everything within their power to mitigate these situations.
Elected Officials to Protect America (EOPA) California has lauded Governor Newsom’s previous budget that made unprecedented investments in climate crisis mitigation, including investment funding for offshore wind energy to move forward. His law that will prevent new oil drilling in neighborhoods and apply strict pollution controls to existing neighborhood oil drilling sites, will help protect communities from carcinogenic fossil fuel fumes. The funding for it, Senate Bill 1137, to move forward in this budget is critical. The $100 million committed in 2022 to be spent over 2 years for plugging and abandonment of oil wells is a major health initiative and will continue. His scientific fire mitigation efforts are necessary. His electric vehicle program is groundbreaking, but should not be threatened with this proposed budget. His steadfast commitment to ensure people are reimbursed for oil industry price gouging shows he understands where justice is needed. We will continue to work to ensure that the windfall profit cap on the oil industry for what the governor called, ‘fleecing consumers,’ happens. The people deserve the return of their earnings. EOPA California stands firmly behind all these and other climate crisis efforts his administration has achieved.
While we understand the necessity to balance the budget due to circumstances beyond the state’s control, the proposal by Governor Gavin Newsom to cut nearly $22.5 billion could derail climate change and critical transportation programs, which together account for $3.1 billion of these proposed cuts. These are key programs that will help protect the people of California against the climate crisis The proposed $550 million cut to make the coastline more resilient should never happen. Some of the conversion to zero-emission vehicles, and rail infrastructure programs would be delayed until revenue becomes available. Yet, there is no guarantee funds would materialize. Overall, the proposed budget would reduce multiyear climate spending by some $6 billion.
The Senate Budget Committee’s Subcommittee Chair on Resources, Environmental Protection and Energy, State Sen. Josh Becker said the proposed cuts and delays are ‘concerning at a time when we should be accelerating our work, not tapping the brake pedal.’
Altogether, the proposed budget includes $48 billion for advancing the state’s climate change goals, down from $54 billion in each of the last two budgets. Just last week, the Legislative Analyst’s Office warned only last week that California will miss the state’s 2030 climate targets. This is not the time to par back measures that will protect the people and insulate the economy. Growing jobs in the clean energy sector will spur economic growth and help a just transition from an unstable fossil fuel based economy to the stability of a clean energy economy.
However, there is hope. It has been reported that the governor is floating an infrastructure bond. Elected Officials to Protect America (EOPA) California would like to see that bond include the climate crisis programs that have been delayed or axed. Throughout the state it has become abundantly clear that everything should be done to help mitigate climate crisis extreme weather. We must accelerate programs that will protect communities and transition the state to 100 percent clean energy, sooner not later. We cannot afford to delay these efforts. EOPA California sees this as a question the people of California should weigh in on with this proposed bond.
Elected Officials to Protect America is a network of current and former elected officials who care deeply about protecting the planet and people. EOPA is committed to solving the climate crisis, ensuring environmental justice, and protecting our lands and waters. EOPA educates through value-based storytelling, training lawmakers, and connecting elected officials to inspire strong environmental leadership.
EOPA California is a statewide, non-partisan network of California elected officials committed to protecting our communities, public health, and climate for all we represent.