Air Board Plans Massive Spending to Address Vehicle Pollution

By Published On: November 18, 2021

The California Air Resources Board is planning to spend $2.3 billion to advance zero emission cars, trucks, buses, and off-road engines, with $1.5 billion to be spent in the current fiscal year. More than half the total funding is directed to cleaning up the air in heavily burdened neighborhoods.

Like the California Energy Commission’s new zero-emissions budget, the CARB plan, if passed Nov. 19, also will mark a significant increase in spending on clean transportation and much of it to replace diesel trucks and buses that wreak havoc in communities of color. The unprecedented agency budgets–CARB’s $2.3 billion and the CEC’s $1.4 billion over three years–are thanks to the state’s hefty budget surplus.

“It is really amazing,” said Bill Magavern, Coalition for Clean Air policy director. But more must be done, he added.

“This is the first time there is big funding to get old trucks and buses off our roads,” Roman Partida-Lopez, Greenlining Institute legal counsel, told Current. He applauded the Air Board and legislature for the progress in providing equity to disadvantaged communities of color. Still, large gaps remain, he noted. These include increasing parity on EV vouchers so that lower-income people receive guaranteed funding like those in the $515 million three-year voucher program slated for higher-income drivers.

The two state agencies coordinate their funding. CARB will direct at least 45% of its funds to disadvantaged communities and another 15% to nearby low-income communities. More than half of the CEC funds are for residents in neighborhoods that are low-income.

Like the CEC, the Air Board is expected to spend a large portion of funds, $873 million, on cleaning up heavy-duty trucks, buses, ships and other off-road vehicles. Of that amount, $570 million will go to a voucher program to lower the costs of electric and fuel cell trucks, as well as buses. It includes $275 million to complement CEC funding to clean up 1,000 drayage trucks, 1,000 transit buses and 1,000 school buses. There is a $40 million pilot to clean up short-haul drayage trucks that move goods from ports to warehouses.

Another $195 million will go towards off-road vehicles, including polluting portable generators, leaf blowers and lawnmowers. According to CARB, these small off-road engines last year produced 140 tons of nitrogen oxides and reactive organic gases daily, “exceeding such emissions from light-duty passenger cars.”

Another $515 million through 2023 will pay for vouchers for California residents to buy electric or hydrogen fuel cars, with the level of income eligibility a point of contention.

The plan up for a vote on Friday also includes $150 million for the Clean Cars for All program, which provides incentives to people to scrap old clunkers and purchase cleaner cars. This level of funding is unprecedented, but on the other hand, there was almost no funding last year, Partida-Lopez pointed out.  According to the Air Board, the program received $3 million.

Share this story

Not a member yet?

Subscribe Now