California Climate Policy Changing Latino Lives for the Better

By Orson Aguilar; Executive Director, The Greenlining Institute

Something amazing is starting in California, and it’s changing Latino lives for the better all over our state. An example is Jesus Magallanes, who had to move back into his parents’ home because he couldn’t make it on the $300 a week he was earning through several part-time jobs. Then, he heard that jobs in the solar energy industry were starting to open up in his area. Jesse went through solar installation training at Proteus Inc., a local technical school. While training with Proteus, he did over 100 hours of volunteer work with GRID Alternatives, a national nonprofit that provides job training in solar installation and no- to very low cost solar power systems for low income families. He did well enough that he became a GRID team leader.

That’s where California’s policies to fight global warming come into the picture. GRID Alternatives manages California’s Single Family Affordable Solar Homes program (SASH), installing solar for low-income families who otherwise couldn’t afford it. SASH is part of California’s effort to promote clean energy and combat climate change. Thanks to two smart laws, AB 32 and SB 535, SASH and similar programs are now getting a $75 million boost in the current fiscal year, and will continue to grow over time.

Under these laws, California charges big, industrial polluters for the filth they put into our air. That money then goes into a fund that finances projects to further clean our air, save energy and promote clean power sources like solar and wind. And by law at least one quarter of those funds must go to projects that help economically disadvantaged, highly polluted communities. Sadly, that list of polluted and economically struggling neighborhoods includes plenty of heavily Latino communities and other communities of color around the state, from Madera and Fresno in the Central Valley to East Los Angeles, the Inland Empire, parts of San Diego and more…

Read full opinion-editorial in EGP News

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