Policy Recommendations to Benefit the Sierra Part Five: Structural Recommendations
This post is Part Five of a five part series detailing the content of Sierra CAMP’s newly released “Sierra CAMP’s Policy Recommendations for the 2017 Update of Safeguarding California: Reducing Climate Risk", the state’s climate adaptation plan.
Click here to view the full report.
Over the past month, we have broken the report into five sections, each with its own blog post describing the topic area’s current policy landscape followed by our recommendations. The five topic areas include: Integrated Watershed Management, Forest Restoration, Regional Economic Development, Preparedness and Public Health, and Structural Recommendations.
Priority 5: Structural Recommendations
Current Status: The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32) set California’s ambitious climate reduction goals in motion by dedicating state efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Proceeds from California’s Cap-and-Trade auctions also finance the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF), investing money in programs and projects that work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions throughout California. Further legislation, SB 535, also requires that at least 25% of the money spent by the GGRF benefits disadvantaged communities as defined by CalEnviroScreen 2.0. Unfortunately the current methodology behind CalEnviroScreen excludes nearly the entire Sierra Nevada region and many other rural areas whose low income communities could greatly benefit from additional assistance.
Our Recommendations: Sierra CAMP’s structural recommendations focus primarily on updating the methodology used to identify disadvantaged communities. This will allow for the California Climate Investments from the GGRF to better and more fully serve the Sierra region. Additionally, these suggestions include prioritizing activities with co-benefits and ensuring better delivery of funds in rural jurisdictions throughout the state. They involve reforming the screening criteria and state funding processes to reflect disadvantaged people in the Sierra.
Many Sierra Nevada communities are disadvantaged based on below-average household incomes and health impacts from water contamination, air pollution, and other sources. In order to accurately account for disadvantaged communities and individuals in the Sierra, Sierra CAMP recommends replacing CalEnviroScreen 2.0 with another tool or incorporating criteria used by the Department of Water Resources and amending pollution burden criteria to account for lack of air quality monitoring in this region.
We also encourage policy reform regarding state funding implementation processes, which need to accurately account for all disadvantaged people. This can be done by assigning a portion of the disadvantaged communities percentage to be allocated to rural areas, directing administering agencies to dedicate portions of the GGRF to support projects in rural areas, facilitating joint GGRF applications between urban and rural areas, and more.
These policy recommendations are an important step in ensuring that the Sierra receives its fair share of funding opportunities to respond to threats associated with climate change. This region depends on natural resources for much of its economic vitality, so it is especially vulnerable to these threats -- not to mention the rest of the state that relies on the Sierra’s natural resources.
This blog concludes the five part series detailing Sierra CAMP’s policy recommendations to the 2017 update of Safeguarding California: Reducing Climate Risk. The complete breakdown of this white paper document can be viewed by visiting each of the previous four installments: Part One: Integrated Watershed Management, Part Two: Forest Restoration, Part Three: Regional Economic Development, and Part Four: Public Health and Preparedness.
Sierra CAMP will continue to push these recommendations at the state level. To learn more about Sierra CAMP’s efforts towards climate action and policy, sign up for updates here.