Public Health Institute to study effects of global warming law

April 19, 2010

The Oakland-based Public Health Institute has been awarded a $150,000 grant to study the potential effects of California’s cap-and-trade greenhouse gas reduction program on low-income communities.

The institute will be working with the state Public Health Department on the study, which will then be used by the Air Resources Board as it implements Assembly Bill 32, the landmark legislation that requires California to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

The law requires the ARB to determine if its policies have the potential to result in any unintended consequences for low-income communities and to examine policy options to enhance and protect public health. At the time AB 32 was being debated in the Legislature, some residents and advocates said they feared a cap-and-trade system would encourage heavy industry to continue to pollute in and near low-income neighborhoods because firms will be able to buy “offsets” that let them take credit for emission reductions accomplished elsewhere.

The grant to the Public Health Institute is the first from the Health Impact Project, a recently launched collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts. The project will fund up to 15 demonstration projects in its first phase this year.

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