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Missed Climate Targets, Misalignment of Transportation Funding: Why California Needs A.B. 2438

Editor's note: A.B. 2438 is currently scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee on August 8. ClimatePlan's Sandy Naranjo explains why it is important to pass this requirement to align transportation funding with climate goals - and how the bill opponents' claims that it will undermine current programs are mistaken. This post was originally published on ClimatePlan's site.

California has been considered a national and global leader in addressing climate change by adopting climate policy that sets bold greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets and addresses historical inequities in our transportation sector.

Despite its suite of aspirational targets, state reports including the California Air Resource Board's draft 2022 Scoping Plan and its draft S.B.150 report indicate that California will not meet its climate targets. This is why ClimatePlan is co-sponsoring A.B. 2438, a bill to align transportation spending with our climate targets.

With the rise of global temperatures and declarations of climate emergencies, there is a clear need for bold climate leadership. Will the CA Senate Appropriations Committee bridge the gap between aspirational goals with the tangible policy needed to accomplish them by voting aye for A.B. 2438?

California's transportation sector contributes nearly fifty percent of the state's GHG emissions, eighty percent of its smog-forming emissions, and ninety percent of its diesel particulate emissions. For California to reduce emissions and clean the air, the transportation sector has to change how it plans, funds, and builds our roads. Unfortunately, the recently published A.B. 285 report found that only two percent of transportation funding is in alignment with climate goals, and that transportation policy can be convoluted and overly complicated.

A.B. 2438 addresses these concerns. Members of the California State Assembly have moved the bill through, and now, California Senate Appropriations Committee members have the choice of whether to get us on track to meeting our climate goals.

CA Legislature Should Know A.B. 2438 Is a No-Brainer

A.B. 2438 aims to provide meaningful solutions within our complex transportation decision-making, planning, and funding mechanisms. ClimatePlan previously published a blog discussing why AB 2438 authored by Assemblymember Laura Friedman is so imperative.

Basically, it would codify the Climate Action Plan for Transportation Investments, (CAPTI) which was developed by the California State Transportation Agency in response to an executive order from Governor Newsom.

Although this bill is a no-brainer, it has unfortunately met with hesitation based on misconceptions and misinterpretation of what A.B. 2438 would and would not do.

Following the recommendations from the A.B. 285 report, A.B. 2438 would:

  1. Require our transportation agencies to develop a transparent and publicly available project selection process to show how CAPTI strategies are incorporated into it.
  2. Fiscally constrain the California Transportation Plan by requiring a realistic analysis of trade-offs for what it will take to achieve our 2050 vision.
  3. Require that transportation funding programs including the SHOPP, ITIP, LPP, TCEP, and SCCP incorporate the appropriate strategies from CAPTI.

What A.B. 2438 Does Not Do

A.B. 2438 would not subvert S.B. 1 “fix it first” programs. Groups opposed to it claim that A.B. 2438 would undermine S.B. 1 in several ways: by restricting which projects are considered for funding, by stopping projects that are meaningfully underway, and by dictating outcomes to project sponsors. They also claim it would apply to Regional Transportation Improvement Program funds, and block freight and evacuation routes.

A.B. 2438 would do none of these things. It would not prevent transportation projects from being built nor would it stop projects already underway. It would not change the intent of S.B. 1 programs. A.B. 2438 would ensure that new transportation projects built in California consider and incorporate state climate goals. It would mean that we end business-as-usual planning, and would ensure that, as we build out our transportation system - including roads, highways, bike lanes, and walking paths- they are improving communities rather than polluting them further.

What You Can Do

A.B. 2438 has passed the Assembly, and passed the Senate Transportation Committee with a 9-4 vote on June 28. It is now scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee on August 8. From there, it may move to the committee's "suspense file," where its fate will be announced on August 11.

We encourage everyone to support the passage of A.B. 2438 by signing up on our ClimatePlan listserv to receive key updates, and by utilizing our social media toolkit to advocate to Senate Appropriation Committee members to vote yes on A.B. 2438.

Also see the Natural Resources Defense Council's letter on the subject, and send a message to your Senator urging a yes vote.

For more on the subject, note that Bike Talk  posted an interview with Assembly Transportation Chair Laura Friedman about her bill. In it, she explains more about why the bill is needed, and how easily it could be defeated. She urges supporters to write or call the head of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Anthony Portantino, before August 8 to urge him to move the bill forward.

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