California Climate Change Initiatives Fall Victim To Politics


California is the leading state in the nation when it comes to taking aggressive measures to combat climate change. Over the past few years, it has operated a program that offers incentives to low income families so they can get their dirty old clunkers off the road and purchase a  low emissions car instead. To date, the program has enabled 150,000 Californians to drive clean.


One example is Gabriel Lua. He was spending several hundred dollars a month trying to keep a 30 year old Honda Civic on the road. Thanks to the state program for low income residents, he was able to unload the Civic and get a 2013 Chevy Volt instead. Now he no longer worries that his children are being poisoned by exhaust gasses.

“It saves me gas. It saves me money. I feel safer. And most important, it’s for my kids,” said Lua, a 31-year-old mail carrier for a San Joaquin Valley school district. In theory, Lua’s experience is exactly what the state is trying to create more of. But now, the money for the climate change program has dried up and new applicants are being told they will be placed on a waiting list.

The new annual budged for California passed recently includes no new funds for the program. It also fails to fund the heavy truck initiative designed to slash pollution from drayage trucks that haul containers from ports in Southern California to distribution hubs inland.

The issue isn’t money. The issue, according to the Los Angeles Times, is political wrangling about whether California’s controversial cap and trade program will be extended beyond its cutoff date in 2020. “I think it’s ridiculous to play politics with kids’ lungs,” said Dean Florez, a former state senator and member of the California Air Resources Board. “With the urgency of the climate crisis, we really shouldn’t delay in investing in projects that reduce emissions,” adds Bill Magavern, policy director for the Coalition for Clean Air.

Currently, 3% of all new cars sold in California are zero emissions vehicles. That’s the highest percentage in the nation, but still leave a long way to go to meed CARB’s goal of getting all fossil fuel cars off the roads in the state by 2050. That’s what CARB chair Mary Nichols says will be necessary to meet Governor Jerry Brown’s carbon reduction goals for the state.

The governor says that extending the climate change law is vital to his accomplishing his policies, but many in the business community oppose cap and trade as a waste of time and dollars.They haven’t come up with any counter proposals that would be nearly as effective, however. Most are content to continue stuffing their pockets with money while the environment teeters ever closer to disaster.

In the end, the California government is a mirror of the US federal government — it’s the best that money can buy.

About the Author

I have been a car nut since the days when Rob Walker and Henry N. Manney, III graced the pages of Road & Track. Today, I use my trusty Miata for TSD rallies and occasional track days at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. If it moves on wheels, I'm interested in it. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.
  • AaronD12

    “Now he no longer worries that his children are being poisoned by exhaust gasses.”

    Why would that be? The Volt still spews fumes when running its ICE.

    • Steve Hanley

      I rather think its exhaust is somewhat cleaner than a Honda from the 80’s, Aaron. And the odds are good that most if not all the time, it is running on battery power, not the ICE.

  • Shiggity

    “The issue isn’t money.”

    Cutest thing I’ve ever read.

    When something ‘falls victim to politics’ that means it’s 100% about money. Labor unions / trucking unions / ICE / big oil all go hand and hand. Simple as that.

    When you know you’re obsolete in the free market, rig the market. That’s what politics have become, rigging the market by paying someone to tweak a law for you.

    I thought California was a bit more immune to the corruption. Guess not.

    • Jim Smith

      where there is massive government spending, there is corruption, and lots of it.

      • neroden

        Not true. Social Security is the most obvious example; clean as a whistle.

        Of course it’s possible for there to be massive corruption with massive government spending — the best example is the Department of Defense, which seems to be 100% corrupt and has never passed an audit. It sucks up a trillion dollars a year, most of which is wasted in corruption. I say shut it down. Do you agree?

        • Jim Smith

          ROFL. You aren’t serious, right? Social Security fraud is massive. DoD as well. Defense is in the Constitution. SS is not. So yes, drop SS, in its entirety.