Henry Perea, a California Assemblyman, has recently introduced a bill calling for the expansion of electric car rebates and the construction of more renewable diesel stations.
He is referring to the Clean Vehicle Rebate which offers refunds of up to $5,000 for new electric and hybrid vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf and the Tesla Model S. This program sources its funding from the California Air Resources Board.
Perea is seeking to expand the electric car rebates under Assembly Bill 904 to include used vehicles that are more accessible to lower income citizens of California. He also proposed that $35 million from the state budget be redirected to the construction of renewable diesel stations.
Meanwhile, California’s Assembly Bill 1176 is designed to inject more money from renewable energy programs to low income towns that are suffering from excessive pollution.
The contents of the bill reveal that there are moderate Democrats who are uncertain about the environmental programs undertaken by the air resources board.
These programs which call for different incentives for renewable energy production are designed to provide opportunities for an emerging market. However, they may also cause increases in transportation costs of consumers and businesses.
2014, Assemblyman Perea tried to defer a change to cap-and-trade which is the board’s principal climate change program. He did this because he said it might cause the increase in gas prices for his rural constituents.
However, state house Republicans were not about to take a compromised approach. Instead, they are actively pushing for the termination of the cap-and-trade scheme.
They ignore the fact that hundreds of thousands of low-income Californians, especially those in rural areas, exist amidst the worst air pollution in the United States. Most of them drive relatively old, inefficient vehicles.
As the state government in California focuses in on the latest, high-tech, top-of-the-line transportation strategies, it risks leaving behind an important sector of homeowners and communities who could most benefit from the shift to a greener, cheaper, and more sustainable transportation future.
The state has recognized this problem and is now attempting to address it by focusing on vehicle repair and retirement programs. This is laudable because it is the start of solving carbon emission problems.
But if the state concentrates more on just repairing and retiring vehicles and not replacing them with cleaner, more efficient ones, its existing programs will not maximize long-term air benefits. Likewise, it will not reduce the financial burden these inefficient vehicles currently place on its low-income citizens.
California is already regarded as a leader in advanced and high-tech transportation and transit solutions. It is time that the state also functions as a leader in pragmatic solutions for its non-urban, low-income, car-dependent households who are oftentimes left behind in these discussions.
Developing and deploying effective solutions to these communities will have a dramatic impact on the state’s existing air quality and the budget of every family. It will also broaden the circle of California citizens who play an active part in moving this state toward a cleaner and fossil-free future.