AB 32: finances, effect on the poor and minorities

April 14, 2010

Two reports due today will shed light on different parts of the plan to implement AB 32 — California’s law to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

The Legislative Analyst will have a report online here by 10 a.m. that looks at the Air Resources Board’s progress in meeting the law’s milestones so far and examines the governor’s plan for financing the law’s implementation and enforcement. The report will also offer legislators some recommendations on oversight to ensure that money raised by a new administrative fee is spent properly.

Researchers from The University of California, Occidental College and USC, meanwhile, will release a study here at 11 a.m. that documents the relationship between greenhouse gases, other pollutants and demographics.

Some of the study’s findings:

–While the composition of neighborhoods more than six miles away from any large GHG-emitting facility is 54 percent non-Hispanic white and 46 percent people of color, neighborhoods that are closer – within various distance bands such as six miles, two and a half miles, or one mile – are about 40 percent non-Hispanic white and 60 percent people of color.

–Children in poverty, along with all people in poverty, are also disproportionately near major GHG-emitting facilities. However, it is not just this income factor driving the apparent racial disparity: people of color are more likely to live near these facilities than their white peers in the same income bracket.

–Within California, people of color are more likely to be near those large GHG-emitting facilities with the highest emissions of other pollutants such as particulate matter and/or clusters of facilities where such pollutants accumulate to high levels. Overall, people of color experience over 70 percent more particulate matter emissions within two and a half miles of the facilities listed as major GHG-emitters as non-Hispanic whites, and the disparity is particularly sharp for African Americans.

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