For over 30 years, the Cleaner Air Partnership (CAP) has fought to improve air quality across the Capital region because investing in clean air improves public health, while also growing our economy and attracting new businesses. CAP is anchored by the Sacramento Metro Chamber, Breathe California Sacramento Region, and Valley Vision, but spans a broad coalition of environmental advocates, business leaders, elected officials, and others. CAP has been especially active during the current legislative session because the Capital region’s air quality needs have been overlooked for too long.
In last year’s allocation of $250 Million in State Community Air Protection Program funding, 95% went to three large air districts, leaving the remaining thirty-two districts in California to compete for $12.5 million. The five air districts in the Capital region received only $1.5 million of the $250 million for clean air projects to protect public health and grow our economy.
The Capital region has two challenges in securing funding – (1) the process by which disadvantaged communities are defined (2) a historical lack of coordination between regional organizations on Cap & Trade allocations and related environmental matters.
Earlier this year Sacramento County Supervisor and Air Resources Board Member, Phil Serna urged CAP to lead an advocacy effort to secure an adequate share of Cap & Trade funding. The Partnership developed a Cap & Trade Playbook with a clear ask in the FY 18-19 Budget Cycle – $35 million for the region – based on an analysis by the Sacramento Metro Air Quality Management District, which identified approximately $365 million in funding needed across the region. We calculated that about $35 Million in funding each year for the next 10 years would allow CAP to begin addressing the region’s need for cleaner air.
Since finalizing its strategy, CAP has begun a strong push to educate the Capital region’s State representatives, business leaders, local elected officials, and environmental advocates, about the need to correct the funding imbalance. Since January, CAP has met at least once with all 12 offices of the region’s State representatives; repeating our $35 million ask and seeking commitments to fight for improving the region’s air quality by securing adequate funding from the State Community Air Protection Program.
The campaign has accelerated since the beginning of May, because of the State Legislature’s budgetary deadline on May 25th determining funding recipients statewide. Assemblymember McCarty and Senator Pan have championed the collection of signatures from our regional delegation’s members, supporting our $35 million request as the budget process continues into the summer. Alongside the support letter, CAP has put together materials demonstrating the Capital region’s $365 million need and suggesting draft budget language that will secure adequate funding.
The Cleaner Air Partnership’s focused advocacy efforts represent a new strategy for our region, and the coalition will keep fighting to secure the funding to improve air quality in our region next year and for many years to come.