April 27, 2012
Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) and the California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA) achieved an important victory on April 23rd when the “Solar-for-All” bill (AB 1990) passed out of the California Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee with a vote of 9-4. This is just the beginning! The bill is now headed to the Appropriations Committee in May.
The bill, authored by Assembly Member Paul Fong, would build 375 megawatts of small scale solar projects in highly polluted communities of color throughout California. The program would support at least one thousand solar projects in urban and rural neighborhoods and generate an estimated 5000 job-years for people from those neighborhoods. CEJA is a statewide environmental justice coalition made up of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Communities for a Better Environment, Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice, the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment, the Environmental Health Coalition, and People Organized to Demand Environmental and Economic Rights.
The “Solar-For-All” bill marks the first time that any state renewable energy legislation has been directed at benefitting low-income communities of color (EJ Communities). EJ communities suffer the most from fossil fuel emissions – from car and diesel emissions, power plants, oil refineries, ports, rail traffic, and manufacturing. In this case, “suffer” means high rates of childhood asthma, and higher rates of cancer, heart disease, respiratory illness, miscarriages, and low birth weights. It is only right that these communities should now benefit from the massive build out of renewable energy being planned by the State.
By 2020, one third of all California’s energy will be renewable, requiring an investment of tens of billions of dollars. “Solar-For-All” will help to ensure that some of this new infrastructure, and the jobs and business opportunities that go with it, are in places like Richmond, East and West Oakland, the Mission District of San Francisco, National City, Delano, Riverside, Wilmington, and Southeast Los Angeles.