S. E. Williams |

To get ahead of the final draft release of the state’s zero-emission vehicle rule expected in the coming weeks, leading environmental justice advocates participated in a virtual roundtable discussion on Tuesday, November 9, to escalate their demand that the California Air Resources Board (CARB) adopt more stringent zero-emission vehicle policies to achieve climate and environmental justice.

In September 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an Executive Order requiring zero emissions for all new light-duty passenger vehicles by 2035. The California Air Resources Board is charged with putting regulations in place in compliance with the order.  

As CARB prepares to release the final draft of the new rules, environmental justice advocates remain concerned that the new rules will be strong enough to adequately address systemic inequities resulting from disproportionate exposure to tailpipe pollution and the impacts of climate change that plague low-income communities of color across the state. This includes the inland region  that is known to have some of the worst air quality in the nation.

Environmental justice advocates note CARB has a limited opportunity to improve its comprehensive Advanced Clean Cars program to directly address systemic inequities by delivering accessible zero-emission transportation options to frontline communities.

People of color in California bear the biggest burden of vehicle air pollution. (Source: Energy Foundation)

Senior Engineer, Union of Concerned Scientists, Dave Reichmuth argued, “We are experiencing wildfires and other climate disasters that show us that we need to make an urgent change. We do not have time to wait for the transition to zero-emission vehicles to happen; the time is now. The Advanced Clean Cars Program is just one piece of the solution, and it must be stronger because it will underlie a lot of the State efforts moving forward.”

Roman Partida-Lopez, Legal Counsel for Transportation Equity at the Greenlining Institute stated, “The state of California has made investments to improve on the benefits that are going to low-income communities, but this is not enough.”

Lopez continued, “The Advanced Clean Cars II is the second stage that presents an opportunity to center equity and accessibility for all households. CARB must develop a stringent policy and incentive programs that prioritize equity and push the boundaries for how we address climate change to ensure that low-income households receive direct investments and access.”

An advocate for The Latino Equity Advocacy & Policy (LEAP) Institute spoke to the importance of the Green Raiteros electric vehicle rideshare program intended to provide farmworker families with clean transportation options.

Roman argued, “Subsidies are not set up for low-income communities that are disproportionately impacted by pollution, yet these are the communities most in need.”

He concluded, “We need more stringent policy that will result in innovation for the future of frontline communities.”Click here to view the entire discussion.

Header image: (source: insideucr.ucr.edu)

Stephanie Williams is executive editor of the IE Voice and Black Voice News. A longtime champion for civil rights and social justice in all its forms, she is also an advocate for government transparency and committed to ferreting out and exposing government corruption. Over the years Stephanie has reported for other publications in the inland region and Los Angeles and received awards from the California News Publishers Association for her investigative reporting and Ethnic Media Services for her weekly column, Keeping it Real. She also served as a Health Journalism Fellow with the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism. Contact Stephanie with tips, comments. or concerns at myopinion@ievoice.com.