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California minority businesses lobby for fair share of clean air economy’s boon

/ 01:34 AM May 01, 2015
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Connie Stewart runs tests on the circuit board she is assembling in the lab at US Hybrid, an advanced vehicle powertrain supplier in Torrance, California. UPLIFTCA.ORG PHOTO

SACRAMENTO –- Ethnic and diverse businesses have a key role to play in the state’s efforts to fight climate change and air pollution, a broad coalition of ethnic business leaders and community advocates told state lawmakers and the governor April 29.

A morning briefing followed by meetings with key legislators and the governor’s office kicked off “Good Economy Day of Action” hosted by the Asian & Pacific Legislative Caucus, Legislative Black Caucus, Latino Legislative Caucus and The Greenlining Institute.

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“As businesspeople, we prosper when our communities prosper,” said Azizza Goines, resident and CEO of the Sacramento Black Chamber of Commerce.

“By directing at least one quarter of cap-and-trade revenues into economically disadvantaged, highly polluted communities, SB 535 is bringing hope to long-neglected neighborhoods,” Azizza added. “This is a model that federal policymakers and other states should follow.”

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To highlight the benefits of California clean energy policies, The Greenlining Institute created UpliftCA.org (English) and es.UpLiftCA.org (Spanish).

“California’s growing clean energy economy not only fights climate change,” said Greenlining Institute Environmental Equity Program Manager Alvaro Sanchez, “today over 430,000 Californians work in energy efficiency, solar power and related fields — more Californians than in aerospace or movies, TV and radio combined.”

Sanchez said further, “This is the economy of the future, and if we do it right, it can lift up neighborhoods and communities that have struggled with high unemployment and dirty air.”

Part of “doing it right,” participants said, must involve maintaining funding for projects covered by SB 535, which brings clean energy investments to underserved communities, and SB 1275, the Charge Ahead Initiative, which makes clean transportation affordable to low-income communities through programs like car-sharing and clean vehicle rebates.

They also urged passage of the EmPower California Act, AB 865, which would “level the playing field” for businesses owned by women, disabled veterans, people of color and LGBTQ individuals in projects funded by the California Energy Commission.

“We strongly urge legislators to support SB 865,” said Michael Chan, president of ASIAN, Inc. “Diverse small businesses are the backbone of California’s economy, and we need to make sure they get a fair shot at clean energy contracts and opportunities.”

Mark Herbert, California Project Manager for Small Business Majority, added, “We know from our scientific polling that California small business owners strongly support transitioning to a stronger clean energy economy. It’s good for their bottom lines and for their communities.”

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“California has a lot of forward-thinking programs to bring the benefits of the clean energy economy to neighborhoods hit first and worst by pollution and poverty,” said Greenlining Institute Environmental Equity Director Vien Truong. “But to make the promise real those programs must be funded and given priority.”

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TAGS: “Good Economy Day of Action, ” Asian & Pacific Legislative Caucus, AB 865, cap and trade revenues, Charge Ahead Initiative, EmPower California Act, fair distribution of clean air economy benefits, Latino Legislative Caucus, Legislative Black Caucus, Sacramento Black Chamber of Commerce, SB 1275, SB 535, The Greenlining Institute, UpliftCA.org
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