On Thursday, May 22nd the California Air Resources Board held an initial hearing to consider the proposed Regional Transportation Plans and Sustainable Communities Strategies put forth by each individual Council of Governments in all 8 counties in the San Joaquin Valley. These plans are collectively responsible for reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions by 10% by the year 2040 by investing in sustainable communities and land use planning that will reduce Vehicle Miles Traveled. Several residents of the San Joaquin Valley and engaged organizations traveled to Sacramento to provide testimony on this issue.
CCEJN Coordinator, Cesar Campos, provided the following testimony:
Central California Environmental Justice Network is a network of organizations that work to uphold environmental justice & strive for resource preservation in the San Joaquin Valley.
I am here today to ask you to upkeep the principles of environmental justice as you review these RTP’s and instruct the counties to evaluate if they are using these plans to actively and disproportionately burden certain sectors of the population.
For example, the Fresno COG is through this process proposing the development of new high income communities farther away from city centers–by doing this, Fresno COG is allowing wealthier residents to actually increase their VMT, leaving others with the further burden of meeting these reductions.
Kern COG is speculating to meet these reductions by factoring in rising prices of fuel & a recession, once again arguing that low income populations that can’t afford to drive will make up for most of the reductions.
As we all know the responsibility for meeting these reductions fall upon all of us. It is anti-environmental justice to target certain sectors of the population, in these cases, low-income residents for the bulk of the reductions. California Air Resources Board has the responsibility that we meet these standards with an equitable distribution of burden and benefits.