Prominent civil rights leaders have filed a lawsuit against the state of California, alleging their climate policies harm the poor and people of color.
The lawsuit says that California’s climate policies guarantee that transportation, energy and housing costs will continue to get more expensive while gateway jobs to the middle class will keep moving to different states.
The civil rights leaders claim that the policies negatively affect poor people more than they help the climate.
“Since the effective date of California’s landmark GHG [greenhouse gas] reduction law, the Global Warming Solutions Act, 41 states have reduced per capita GHG by more than California,” they said.
Jennifer Hernandez, the attorney representing the civil rights leaders, believes California continues to make life more difficult for working families.
“Time after time California imposes new costs and restrictions on home-building which make housing even more expensive, which harms working families and minority communities the most,” she said.
George Lefcoe, a law professor at the University of Southern California, is particularly fond of the lawsuit’s challenge to transportation policies.
“Automobiles are the survival mechanism for low-income people,” noted Lefcoe. “If you try to increase the cost of automobiles, you hurt low-income people.
Dave Clegern, a spokesperson for California Air Resources Board (CARB), said that the agency’s draft plan isn’t prohibiting certain types of housing and added, “The type of development urged by the suit would actually encourage continued urban sprawl, which would remove housing from closer location to jobs and other resources.”
Clegern also said that the draft plan suggested ways to use the hundreds of millions of dollars allocated to affordable, transit-friendly housing every year. The money comes from the cap-and-trade program and consistently supplies affordable housing in the state.
However, Hernandez argues that the money they are allocating to affordable housing is a, “- small fraction of the spending, with most going to higher income households for things like electric car and rooftop solar subsidies.”