California Points Nearly $1 Billion Toward Clean Transportation Funding

Late last week, California lawmakers passed A.B.134, a bill that earmarks $900 million in funding from the state budget to support various clean transportation, clean air, and alternative fuel initiatives.

The state assembly voted 58-19 in favor of the measure, while the state senate voted 28-9 in the affirmative. On Sat., Sep. 16, California Gov. Jerry Brown approved the bill.

Bill Magavern, policy director for the Coalition for Clean Air, noted that the so-called California Clean Air Initiative is the “largest-ever single-year commitment of funding devoted to reducing air pollution in our state.”

“This summer’s high smog levels remind us that this kind of commitment will be necessary for many years, and this budget bill is an excellent down payment,” he said.

Central to the bill is up to $140 million for the state’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Project, along with up to $100 million for the Enhanced Fleet Modernization Program and Plus-Up Pilot Project, the replacement of school buses, Clean Vehicle Rebate Project rebates specifically for low-income applicants, and light-duty equity pilot projects.

Another $180 million will fund the state’s Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP), which steers point-of-sale incentive dollars toward the purchase of vehicles that use electric, fuel cell and ultra low-NOx natural gas technologies.

Also, additional funding of up to $250 million will be directed to the state’s air quality management and air pollution control districts through the Carl Moyer Memorial Air Quality Standards Attainment Program – an initiative implemented in 1998 that provides grant funding to help fleets and individuals switch to cleaner trucks, school buses, transit buses and other vehicles.

Thomas Lawson, president of the California Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition, said that the bill will “replace dirty diesel engines with cleaner-burning natural gas engines that will directly result in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and the reduction of smog-forming pollutants.”

“A.B.134 takes $900 million of funds derived from auctioning off carbon allowances and puts it into incentives for reducing emissions from cars, trucks, buses and other engines,” he said.

State Sen. Ricardo Lara, who was among the lawmakers leading the charge for this level of funding for clean air initiatives, noted that California cities are “making tremendous progress” toward a cleaner, more sustainable future for the state.

“I represent the nation’s second-busiest port and truck corridor in Long Beach and southeast Los Angeles, and pollution from dirty trucks and buses is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions,” he remarked.

“The California Clean Air Initiative will allow us to invest in low-carbon vehicles and agricultural equipment, as well as clean freight equipment at our ports – and continue to lead the world.”

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