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Citing unacceptable costs of inaction on climate change and air pollution, AB 69 is shelved

President Pro Tempore Steinberg sent this compelling letter to Assemblymember Perea describing why AB 69, which would have delayed emission limits for the oil industry, would have moved California in the wrong direction.  Keeping AB 32 on track is great news for Californians.

A few of the highlights:

I share your concern about the costs of combating carbon emissions. But the cost of doing nothing is much greater. Business as usual is unsustainable. Inaction is not an option. If we are serious about reducing fuel costs and righting the public health and economic wrongs facing our constituents, we must wean ourselves off fossil fuels and invest in cleaner transportation alternatives and in low income communities as we did in this year’s budget.

Pollution-caused healthcare costs are debilitating.  More than 12 million Californians breathe air that is polluted beyond federal standards according the Air Resources Board.  A sobering CSU study showed that in Los Angeles and the San Joaquin Valley alone, polluted air inflicts a $28 billion burden annually in health and economic costs.  Without AB-32’s clean transportation policies, Californians will suffer an additional $8.3 billion in pollution-related health costs over the next decade.  That includes 75,000 lost work days, 38,000 asthma attacks, 880 premature deaths and 600 heart attacks, according to a report co-authored by the American Lung Association.

Climate change has intensified California relentless drought conditions by fueling record-breaking warm temperatures, increasing deadly wildfires and scorching our state’s lifeline snow pack. This stress on our water supply threatens to devastate the state’s $42 billion agricultural economy.  The Pacific Institute and California Climate Change Center calculate that rising sea levels threaten 480,000 people and $100 billion in property with catastrophic flooding. Doing nothing threatens threaten critical infrastructure such as schools, roads, hospitals, airports, power plants and wastewater treatment plants.
With California representing 11% of the national transportation energy market, oil dependence is hammering our state economy to the tune of $30 billion.
Congestion is strangling our economy. A study by the Economic Development Research Corporation projects that congestion threatens 480,000 jobs, representing $32 billion per year in income by 2040. Our state’s road users are collectively on course to travel 1.1 billion miles daily by 2020, an increase of over 100 million miles traveled daily over the next six years.

A May 2014 study from the American Lung Association finds that California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard and transportation fuels under the cap will save Californians over $10 billion in health and societal economic costs by 2020. The average Californian will pay 20 percent less in fuel bills by 2020 as a result of AB-32 thanks to increased diversity and competition among fuel suppliers. Millions of Californians received “climate credits” on their April electricity bills, between $30 and $40 each.

Finally, giving oil companies a free pass on AB-32 received the ultimate deliberative hearing in 2010: an overwhelming 62-38 vote of the California electorate– despite $10 million from the oil industry attempting to convince voters otherwise.”