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Environmental advocates sound the alarm about devastating potential budget cuts in California: 'These are programs intended to reduce harmful pollution'

"The climate crisis doesn't take a break for tough budget years."

"The climate crisis doesn’t take a break for tough budget years."

Photo Credit: iStock

Essential climate programs may be on the chopping block in California.

What's happening?

As detailed by CalMatters, Democratic lawmakers and environmental advocates are pushing Governor Gavin Newsom to endorse a bond measure to secure funding for critical climate programs that face cuts and delays due to California's record $56 billion budget deficit.

Two years prior, Newsom and the state legislature approved a $54.3 billion spending package for the California Climate Commitment. Fast forward to now, and legislators are pushing for bonds to fund vital programs such as enhancing coastlines to curb rising sea levels and making electric vehicles more affordable for California citizens.

"These are programs intended to reduce harmful pollution," Will Barrett, a senior director with the American Lung Association, told CalMatters, referring particularly to efforts to reduce pollution from vehicles.

Why is this concerning?

Reduced funding for low-pollution programs, such as cleaner car rebates, could worsen California's already poor air quality and make it harder for residents to purchase electric vehicles.

Plus, air pollution has been linked to many health issues over the years, such as asthma, complications in children, and our mental health. And we're trending in the wrong direction.

According to research by USA Facts, despite California's average air quality index improving by nearly 40 points since 1985, it's still the second-worst state behind Arizona in air quality. The American Lung Association identified that six of the 10 smoggiest and most air-polluted cities in the country are in California (seven, if you go by short-term particle pollution levels). 

The Golden State is also in danger of missing its 2030 climate goals unless it nearly triples its reduction rate of planet-warming gases, as CalMatters reported.

"The climate crisis doesn't take a break for tough budget years. Anything we put off for later will only cost us more … as the climate crisis worsens," David Weiskopf, senior policy advisor for NextGen California, told the outlet.

What can be done?

California may want to look into solutions similar to what South Korea is doing, developing a way to significantly reduce planet-warming gas pollution by converting manure into biochar instead of composting it.

At the individual level, your voice is powerful. Consider using it more. Hold state representatives accountable by using your vote to support lawmakers with a history of action toward climate progress. This will help mitigate lobbying against climate progress, such as New York City's congestion pricing effort being "indefinitely paused" ahead of a June 30 start date.

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