Looking To Green the California Budget2 min read

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With the state’s finances in, well, a bad state, California’s legislative Republicans recently presented their proposals for saving greenbacks. Right now, the California Legislature is holding hearings on this plan.

Sierra Club California and other environmental groups want to make sure the state’s budget protects California’s families and wild places alike. Here’s a quick look at some of these Republican proposals – and our ways to make them greener.

Proposal: Eliminate state funding for transit agencies ($459.6 million).

Make It Greener: Many California families depend on public transit to get to work, school and everywhere else they go. Instead of dropping this fee, California’s leaders could advance a “fossil fuel fee” that would help fund public transportation and reduce the pollution that causes global warming.

Proposal: Extend deadlines for critical greenhouse gas and key engine retrofit requirements.

Make It Greener: Delaying greenhouse gas and engine retrofit deadlines won’t help the state meet its goal for reducing global warming emissions – or help California’s economy take advantage of the green jobs potential from both pioneering regulations. Novel ideas, like auctioning greenhouse gas emissions allocations to help consumers and small businesses pay for any energy cost increases, will keep California at the forefront of the green economy.

Proposal: Lengthen the amount of time between reviews of timber harvest plans.

Make It Greener: Alternatively, state water and wildlife agencies could charge fees for reviewing the plans, similar to the fees they charge hunters, anglers and developers. This would provide new revenue to make sure logging won’t put animals in harm’s way, or choke streams and rivers.

Proposal: Roll back California Environmental Quality Act protections for massive road-building and levee projects.

Make It Greener: These proposals actually have nothing to do with the state budget. They are an attempt by some to use the state’s dire budget circumstances to achieve rollbacks in environmental protection that they have not been able to win through the regular legislative policy process, and could result in poorly planned development.

Paul Mason has been a legislative representative for Sierra Club California since 2002.

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