In a sweeping plan to expedite infrastructure projects, Governor Newsom fails to offer any commitment to equity or labor standards that ensure funding goes to creating good jobs and prioritizes communities that need it most.
Sacramento, CA — On Friday, Governor Newsom announced a proposal to streamline infrastructure projects by reforming CEQA and the permitting process, including an executive order and legislative package. In addition to concerns it raises about undercutting regulations that protect communities and the environment, this proposal completely omits any mention of equity and labor standards. California has a long history of racist infrastructure policies and investments that have cemented inequities in housing, education, economic opportunity, health, and environmental pollution. Rather than put justice and equity at the center of the state’s infrastructure plan, this proposal focuses on unwinding critical environmental protection regulations through a rushed and non-transparent budget trailer bill process.
Last year, the California Green New Deal Coalition helped to lead a coalition of environmental justice, community, climate, and labor groups in supporting AB 2419, the California Justice40 Act. This bill would have aligned California with the federal Justice40 Initiative by putting equity and labor standards at the center of our investments. Despite strong and diverse support for AB 2419, the legislation died in a bitter failure to deliver on environmental and economic justice. Advocates were hopeful that subsequent state action would include equity standards as a central component of the state’s infrastructure plan, but Friday’s proposal reveals that this is not a serious priority for the Administration.
The Governor’s announcement also highlights several projects that a number of environmental groups have opposed as deeply concerning. Without bringing in community, climate, and environmental justice groups to help meaningfully shape this effort, Governor Newsom’s proposal falls short of the potential to advance equitable infrastructure solutions.
Statement from Zach Lou, Coalition Manager for the California Green New Deal Coalition:
“We strongly believe that there is a historic opportunity to build new infrastructure in ways that create high road jobs, invest in disadvantaged communities, and address the climate crisis. But this will not happen automatically – expediting project timelines does nothing to repair the longstanding legacy of racist infrastructure policies and systemic community disinvestment, nor does it establish clear labor standards that ensure public money creates good jobs.
As California prepares for a wave of federal dollars from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), it is more important now than ever that we put equity at the center of our investments. We call on Governor Newsom to include equity and labor standards in his infrastructure proposal and demonstrate that the benefits of these projects, and who benefits from them, matter just as much as the time it takes to get them done.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 23, 2023