The Climate Change Scoping Plan Workshop is coming to the Valley!

State of California officials and local environmental justice leaders want to hear from you about clean air and climate change.

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CLEAN AIR · CLEAN ENERGY · LIVABLE COMMUNITIES

How do we get there, what are our choices, and what does it mean for your family, neighborhood, and community?

Oficiales del estado de California y líderes locales de justicia ambiental quieren oír tus opiniones sobre la calidad del aire y el cambio climático.

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AIRE PURO · ENERGÍA LIMPIA · COMUNIDADES HABITABLES

¿Cómo lo lograremos? ¿Cuáles son nuestras opciones? ¿Qué significado tiene para nuestras familias, vecindarios
y comunidades?

Click on Fresno Flyers for details!

English Flyer
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Volante en EspañolEJAC_community_meeting_flyer_F_sp

Bring the Forest to your neighborhood for a COOLER community!

Planting with Purpose URBAN FORESTRY Grant ProgramCA ReLEAF WorkshopFINAL

Don’t miss this awesome opportunity to learn about the Community Forestry Grant Workshop!  This is the second workshop that Valley Latino Environmental Advancement and Policy Project hosts in Fresno for San Joaquin Valley community groups and organizations.  What is great about the workshop is that you will have the agencies responsible for awarding the grants and will be available for questions after they present and as you work on your proposal to add “Green Canopies” to cool off your town.  Maybe you will plant trees so your mom, tia or abuelita can walk to church, or the store, without getting a sun burn!  Probably you have a park that has lost it’s trees to a parasite and their have been no resources to replace them or your neighborhood takes a beating from the sun due to no shading, a desert down each street.

Now is your time to Green Up!  What I was told by Chuck from California ReLEAF is that this year it will be a little different.  They will allow a suplemental project to be funded but the core will still have to be the planting of trees for shade, green house gas reduction and , ultimately, a more beautiful community!

Join us to learn the details, the tricks and to get samples.  What is most important for Cal FIRE and California ReLEAF is that they get the money out to the communities with need, good ideas and a plan.  Come learn how it’s been done and be inspired to come up with your own plane.  The process has been getting easier and the opportunity is only getting better.

For more information click on flyer above!  Thank you and see you there!

Rey Leon, Executive Director, Valley LEAP

 

Volkswagen to spend over one billion dollars in California to address illegal emissions caused by cheating devices on its 2.0-liter diesel vehicles

Funds to fully mitigate pollution from cheating and make investments to expand California’s growing Zero-Emission Vehicle market

http://www.arb.ca.gov/newsrel/newsrelease.php?id=834
SACRAMENTO –  California Air Resources Board Chair Mary D. Nichols and Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced today that German automaker Volkswagen AG and related entities have agreed to funding or investments totaling more than one billion dollars in California to fully remedy the environmental harm caused by using illegal “defeat devices” to cheat emissions tests in 71,000 2.0-liter diesel cars sold in California between 2009-2015.

The money for California includes approximately $380 million for projects to reduce smog-producing pollution by incentivizing clean heavy-duty vehicles and equipment in disadvantaged communities, and $800 million in investments to advance California’s nation-leading zero-emissions vehicle programs.  VW will make these payments and investments in installments over several years.  California’s share represents one-quarter of the total $4.7 billion mitigation fund and ZEV investment obligations.

The mitigation funding and ZEV investments are part of a settlement requiring Volkswagen to offer consumers a buyback and lease termination for all 500,000 model year 2009-2015 2.0-liter diesel vehicles sold or leased nationwide, and spend up to $10 billion to compensate consumers under the program.

In addition to the buyback option, Volkswagen may also propose an emissions modification plan to U.S. EPA and CARB, and if approved, VW will offer owners and lessees the option of having their vehicles modified to substantially reduce emissions in lieu of having the car bought back by VW.

By virtue of its discovery of VW’s deceit and CARB’s longstanding role in setting and enforcing tough vehicle standards, California played a major role in leading, shaping and structuring the settlement to achieve two basic principles: 1) ensure that emissions in California due to VW’s cheating are fully mitigated, and 2) provide consumers with attractive options including significant inducements that VW must pay.

“This is a good deal for California’s environment and for California consumers. It will bring over a billion dollars of projects to California to supercharge our expanding zero-emission vehicle market, and fully mitigate the environmental harm  to our air as a result of VW’s cheating,” said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols.

“The Consent Decree also recognizes the crucial contribution the dogged engineers in CARB’s testing lab played in exposing the illegal device in the first place – and the exceptionally costly and difficult challenges we face in our fight for cleaner air in a state where tens of millions breathe the most heavily polluted air in the nation.”

“Our state and national environmental protection laws exist to protect public health and to preserve our planet for future generations.  Volkswagen undermined these objectives by deceiving California consumers and flagrantly violating California environmental and consumer protection laws by manipulating its diesel vehicles to produce false results when undergoing emissions testing,” said Attorney General Kamala Harris. “This landmark agreement not only ensures that consumers who were deceived are fairly compensated, but also requires Volkswagen to make unprecedented investments in protecting our environment and advancing zero emission technology.”

In California, VW’s cheating was particularly harmful, because our air quality is worse than anywhere else in the nation, with 23 million people living within the nation’s only severe nonattainment areas for ozone pollution, and 12 million living in areas with nation-leading levels of fine particle pollution. These pollutants cause lung disease, heart disease, and premature death, especially among our most vulnerable populations. To put California on track to ensure healthy air for all, California has adopted the most stringent air quality regulatory and enforcement program in the United States.

“The purpose of California’s rigorous certification and enforcement program is to catch cheaters like Volkswagen, to take actions to mitigate the harm they have done and to penalize them to send the clearest possible signal that cheating doesn’t pay,” said CARB’s Executive Officer Richard W. Corey. “Volkswagen’s actions were deeply unfair to Californians who breathe unhealthy air every day, and offensive to California businesses that invest their time and money to meet California’s stringent regulatory requirements. It was also a violation of the trust that consumers put in Volkswagens’ marketing claims that it was producing clean vehicles.  We hope that VW now understands that if you cheat you are going to get caught — and when you do, it will be costly.”

In September 2015, CARB and U.S. EPA announced that VW had admitted installing certain software in all 2.0-liter diesel passenger cars, model years 2009 through 2015. This software was specifically designed to detect when the car was being tested in the laboratory and operate to meet the rigorous certification standards for emissions. But the software also detected when the car was outside the laboratory and on the open road, and then effectively bypassed emissions control equipment. As a result, the software fulfilled the definition of an illegal ”defeat device” and emissions of nitrogen oxide (or NOx, a smog-producing pollutant) in normal, everyday driving reached levels up to 40 times the legal standard.

California’s Share of the National Mitigation Fund:

To address all past and future excess emissions of NOx from the 2.0-liter cars sold in California, under the terms of the Consent Decree VW must pay $380 million over a three-year period into a trust for projects to replace older and dirtier heavy duty diesel vehicles and equipment with advanced zero- or near-zero technologies. This provides an opportunity to focus reductions of emissions in disadvantaged communities.  Californians will have the opportunity for public input on potential projects to be funded with this money.  California’s share of the $2.7 billion mitigation fund is proportional to its share of the total number of affected diesel cars. $900 million is payable in the first year and other states will apply for their share through the trust.

California’s 10-year ZEV Infrastructure and Access Fund:

The Consent Decree also requires Volkswagen to invest $800 million dollars in ZEV infrastructure and access over a 10-year period in California. Volkswagen will be installing zero-emission vehicle fueling infrastructure (for both electric and hydrogen-powered cars), funding consumer awareness campaigns to increase the zero-emission vehicle market, and investing in projects such as car-sharing programs that will increase access to zero-emission vehicles for all consumers in California. These brand-neutral projects will support the next generation of zero-emission vehicles that will be sold in California, helping to grow the state’s burgeoning ZEV program, and will help lay the zero-emissions foundation for achieving the State’s air quality and climate goals.

Under the terms of the settlement, Volkswagen will submit ZEV investment plans every 30 months, covering $200 million dollars in investments in each plan, until the full funding level is expended.  ARB will provide comments and approve each plan after those comments are addressed. Under the broader national settlement, Volkswagen will be investing an additional $1.2 billion under the settlement’s National ZEV investment requirement through the other states for similar projects that support the transition to zero-emission vehicles in areas of the U.S. outside California.

The Consent Decree does not resolve pending claims for civil penalties or any claims concerning 3.0-liter diesel vehicles, and does not address any potential criminal liability.

The proposed Consent Decree is now subject to a 30-day public comment period under provisions of the federal Clean Air Act.

The proposed Consent Decree is available here.

The federal press release is available here.

The California Attorney General’s press release is available here.

An FAQ on California’s portion of the settlement is available here.

Details for car owners and lessees is available here.

DON’T MISS IT! Forum on Water Quality Concern in Farmworker Community

If you reside in the Community of Avenal on the west side of the Valley in Kings County, you don’t want to miss this!

(scroll to the bottom for bilingual flyer!)

The San Joaquin Valley Latino Environmental Advancement and Policy Project manages an environmental Kings IVAN card bilingualviolations reporting system (ivan-kings.org) in Kings County under it’s Healthy Kings County Initiative.  As part of the system, monthly Environmental Justice Network meetings (every second Wednesday of the Month at the Kings County Public Health Department Conference Room, Hanford, CA) are held where we discuss the reports submitted by the public with federal, state, regional and local agencies.  The way it works is that when LEAP receives a report via the system we pass it on to the responsible enforcement agency where they take the item and work towards solving it through a clean up, some times a fine or through a more elaborative process that can take much more time and resources.

The drinking water concern is an issue regarding much more attention.  We first received a report concerning the water on June 9th, 2015.  Soon after we had it on our agenda for the network meetings.    Valley LEAP IVAN Report 6.9.15conducts grassroots projects in many communities including Avenal where the water issue kept coming up in community engagements.  Understanding the vulnerability of students to deficient water quality, Valley LEAP worked with the California Water Resources Control Board (CWRCB) to pursue the provision of bottled water for the short term to the school district.  In turn, CWRCB engaged Self Help Enterprises to assist school district with application to submit for the resources to purchase the bottled water.

This process is an extensive one.  But the timeline looks something like this;

June 9th, 2015 – Get water report in system

June 10th, 2015 – Begin dialogue on Avenal water quality.  Discussion between all the agencies with LEAP to better understand the problem.

(Still getting this date!) Self Help is brought into the fold to work with school district.  They submit application for bottled water

December 2015 – Application is approved

February 2016 – Bottled water is available for students at all the schools in the district (within Avenal)

June 2016 – Valley LEAP takes tour of City of Avenal Water Facility

July 27, 2016 – Open Community Forum to provide information to community, answer any and all questions

We hope that residents join Assemblymember Rudy Salas, California Water Resources Control Board, the City of Avenal, Reef Sunset Unified School District and last but not least Valley LEAP on Wednesday, July 27th to learn how our water works and what is happening to improve it.   For more information contact Rey Leon by calling (559) 851-LEAP (5327) or email at rleon@valleyLEAP.org.

surface water fact

AVENAL.WaterQuality.FORUM.Flyer

California lawmakers unplug the state’s electric car program

Politics

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-clean-vehicle-rebate-project-no-money-20160616-snap-story.html

The 2013 Chevrolet Volt gets 40 miles on a full charge using a level 2 charger. (Los Angeles Times)

Liam Dillon and Chris Megerian

 

A few months ago, Gabriel Lua purchased a 2013 Chevy Volt to replace his 1987 Honda Civic, which had been giving him exhaust headaches and made him worry about the health of his children, ages 3 and 5.

Even though the old Civic had failed the state’s smog test three times and was costing him hundreds of dollars a month in maintenance, Lua said he couldn’t afford to replace it until he learned about a state incentive that helps low-income residents in California’s most polluted communities replace their dirty cars. The state covered more than half the new car’s price tag.

“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.

Lua’s experience is exactly what Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers were aiming to achieve when they decided to spend money from the state’s greenhouse gas reduction fund on subsidizing the purchase of low- and zero-emission vehicles.

California Legislature approves $171 billion state budget

But now they’re cutting off the cash, the result of a political impasse and questions over the future of the state’s climate change programs. Without the funds, California could have a harder time meeting its ambitious goals for getting cleaner vehicles on the roads and protecting public health in smog-ridden areas of the state.

The state’s largest clean-car program and additional subsidies designed for low-income residents in the San Joaquin Valley and Los Angeles have so far put 150,000 low- and zero-emission vehicles on the road in the last seven years, with demand ramping up to thousands of cars per month recently.

“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, the agency that regulates greenhouse gas emissions.

The state’s new budget, which is awaiting Brown’s signature after the Legislature’s approval Wednesday, includes nothing for the vehicle subsidies or other efforts to make heavy-duty trucks more environmentally friendly. Meantime, the clean-car programs are pushing people to waiting lists.

Unlike most budget cuts, the decision to slash funding isn’t due to a lack of money.

California’s greenhouse gas reduction fund gets its cash from auctions that are part of the cap-and-trade program, which requires businesses like oil refineries and manufacturers to buy permits based on how much they pollute.

Although the latest auction of permits produced almost no revenue, the state had previously stockpiled $1.4 billion in the fund. Some of that cash is left over from last year, when the governor and lawmakers were unable to reach an agreement on how to spend it.

Environmental advocates are growing increasingly frustrated that the dollars aren’t hitting the streets. Some believe the governor is holding onto the money as an incentive for lawmakers to reach a deal this summer on extending the life of the cap-and-trade program, which is facing legal questions over whether it can keep operating past 2020.

“With the urgency of the climate crisis, we really shouldn’t delay in investing in projects that reduce emissions,” said Bill Magavern, policy director for the Coalition for Clean Air.

The Brown administration acknowledged the existing climate change dollars could be used as leverage in negotiations on the cap-and-trade program’s future. This week, Brown endorsed extending the program through new legislation.

“An extension will not only provide market certainty, but will ensure ongoing funding for clean-energy programs, especially in vulnerable communities,” Brown spokeswoman Deborah Hoffman told The Times.

The clean-vehicle programs are essential to the state’s ambitious climate change goals. Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary Nichols has said all internal combustion engine cars must be off the road by 2050 to meet Brown’s target of drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions by that time.

Targeting incentive programs toward low-income drivers is particularly important not only because they struggle to afford electric cars, but also because they’re often stuck behind the wheel of older, dirtier vehicles that cause more pollution.

An old truck gets crushed in California’s battle against climate change. The Stockton family that turned in the truck left the event with a 2-year-old Toyota Prius.

Currently, 3% of cars sold in California are zero-emission models – the highest percentage of any state. Even so, Brown has lamented that the pace has lagged far behind the state’s needs.

The program for low-income residents managed by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District has taken a 1972 Ford Courier, 1979 Chevrolet Impala, 1979 Ford Ranchero and hundreds of other cars 20 years and older off the road in favor of electric vehicles and hybrids.

Seyed Sadredin, the district’s executive director, said cars and heavy-duty trucks make up more than 65% of pollution in the valley. The state-funded zero-emission vehicle incentives are indispensable to meeting the region’s climate change goals and its requirements under the federal Clean Air Act, he said, but the district expects to drain the last of its $6.4 million for incentives within the next two months.

“That could be devastating to our efforts,” Sadredin said.

Any San Joaquin Valley residents applying for vehicle incentives now get placed on a waiting list, as do those seeking similar dollars in Los Angeles. In recent weeks, the website of the state’s main low-emission vehicle rebate program has been updated to greet visitors with a graphic saying that it has run out of money and anyone eligible would go on a waiting list.

A notice on California’s main clean-vehicle incentive website. (cleanvehiclerebate.org)

Automobile industry representatives also are concerned about the funding problems.

Carmakers signed agreements with the state committing to the production of cleaner vehicles with the understanding that public dollars would go toward incentive programs, said John Bozzella, the president and chief executive officer of Global Automakers, an umbrella group representing the U.S. divisions of 12 motor vehicle manufacturers.

“If you’re measuring based on the requirements in the [zero-emission vehicle] program, the numbers are very low,” Bozzella said. “And that would suggest to us that you need every tool in the toolbox.”

Earlier this year, officials were operating under a different plan.

In January, Brown proposed spending $500 million on low-carbon transportation programs in the coming year, including $230 million on the primary low-emission rebate program for consumers and $30 million to expand programs targeted to low-income residents in the San Joaquin Valley and Los Angeles. The new dollars were supposed to get 100,000 clean cars on the road.

Last week, a Brown administration finance official told a legislative budget committee that significantly lower than expected revenue from the most recent cap-and-trade auction contributed to the decision to hold back the cash.

But others, including Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), said the existing greenhouse gas money should be spent as soon as possible.

“Every time we don’t spend money, more carbon is emitted into the atmosphere,” De León said.

liam.dillon@latimes.com and chris.megerian@latimes.com

Follow @dillonliam and @ChrisMegerian on Twitter

ALSO:

California’s cap-and-trade program faces daunting hurdles to avoid collapse

State cap-and-trade auction falls far short, hurting bullet train

California falling short in push for more clean vehicles

Updates on California politics

 

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Overcoming Barriers to Citizenship

Posted: 09/15/2015 5:43 pm EDT Updated: 09/15/2015 6:59 pm EDT
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Later this week, to commemorate Citizenship Day on September 17, the Obama administration, members of Congress, and advocates across the country will draw attention to a startling fact: there are roughly 8.8 million eligible lawful permanent residents who are not naturalizing. Of these, approximately 2.7 million are of Mexican origin. Many of these aspiring new Americans have low levels of language proficiency and high levels of poverty.

The benefits of citizenship cannot be understated. In addition to voting rights, citizens tend to earn more than non-citizens, are eligible for government jobs, can travel outside the country with few restrictions, and are able to petition for family members to immigrate to the United States, too.

The clear upside of naturalization makes it all the more puzzling why eligible immigrants are not taking this step and are instead renewing their green cards. One thing is clear: consistently, lawful permanent residents indicate that they would become citizens if they could. A 2012 Pew Hispanic survey found that 96 percent of participating green card holders wanted to naturalize. Similarly, a 2014 Latino Decisions poll found immigrants were actively taking steps to become citizens; 62 percent have taken an English class and 46 percent have taken a course in American history and government. These numbers suggest systemic barriers are preventing many from becoming new Americans.

Financial Barriers

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At $680 per application, the naturalization fee for many is prohibitively expensive. Time and again, immigrants identify the fee as a barrier. In the Pew Hispanic survey, 18 percent of respondents pointed to the high cost as preventing the submission of a citizenship application.

There are several fee-related issues that may also be discouraging citizenship. For example, until recently, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) did not acceptcredit card payments, forcing applicants to pay up front with no option for installments. Similarly, for families seeking to naturalize together, USCIS does not offer a family cap of any kind. Each application still costs the same amount. Finally, USCIS does not refund a payment if an application is rejected. For those concerned about other portions of the process, such as the English or civics tests, the potential loss of $680 is a disincentive.

In addition to the fee on its own and its relation to other barriers, it is possible that the lower fee to renew a green card makes the decision simple. Renewing lawful permanent residency only costs $450 and has less stringent requirements.

Simultaneously recognizing the challenge the fee poses, and that fees are USCIS’s sole revenue source, there have been steps recently to make citizenship more affordable and accessible. For example, as part of the president’s immigration actions in November 2014, he instructed USCIS to examine the feasibility of a partial fee waiver. The current fee waiver is eligible to applicants with incomes up to 150 percent federal poverty and takes care of the entire $680. An effort is underway to examine whether low-income applicants with slightly higher incomes could receive up to a 50 percent fee reduction. Given that the naturalization fee will almost certainly increase (it has not gone up in several years), expanding the fee waiver will be all the more important.

Language Barriers

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In addition to financial barriers, many immigrants point to language as a reason for not applying for citizenship. In the same Pew Hispanic study, 26 percent of respondents identified language proficiency as a barrier and only 30 percent reported to speak English well or very well. For these immigrants, extra time is needed to reach a sufficient degree of proficiency to pass the English and civic portions of the application.

Many immigrants fear they may not pass the English or civics exam both because they underestimate their level of proficiency and lack of information about the specific requirements. The result is that eligible immigrants feel naturalization is more difficult than it truly is and that their applications would certainly be rejected.

Systemic challenges also factor into the language barrier. At all levels of government, funding for adult education has been limited in recent years. Many programs simply cannot serve all those in need. Furthermore, as the adult education system has shifted to focus increasingly more on contextualized English learning for work outcomes, citizenship preparation does not always fit into these models.

Resources Available

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With the spotlight on citizenship this week, it is an opportune moment to highlight free and readily available resources from USCIS and the New Americans Campaign that may help eligible immigrants overcome identified barriers.

  1. USCIS offers a complete fee waiver for applicants with incomes of up to 150 percent federal poverty level. Additional information on the fee waiver:http://www.uscis.gov/feewaiver
  2. USCIS recently began accepting credit card payments.
  3. USCIS will waive the language proficiency requirement for certain older applicants. Additional information on the language waiver:http://www.uscis.gov/us-citizenship/citizenship-through-naturalization/exceptions-accommodations
  4. For additional materials on eligibility, required documents, and preparation materials: uscis.gov, www.newamericanscampaign.org,www.univisioncontigo.com/en

Clean Energy Summit 2015 | Don’t miss it!

Register Today for the Workforce Development, Training & Education Workshop:
www.renewablesinthevalley.org

“The Golden State is home to more than 40,000 businesses serving advanced energy markets, spanning the entire value chain and including a wide range of energy technologies that address both supply and demand.” -Advanced Energy Economy Institute, December 2014

“Investments in clean energy produce two to three times as many jobs per dollar as gas, oil or coal. And dollars invested in clean energy tend to stay in California, instead of other states or countries.” -Governor Jerry Brown, Clean Energy Jobs Plan