California’s cities now routinely have the most toxic air in the United States. Los Angeles, Bakersfield and San Jose make every top-10 list for most polluted air in the country, and Sacramento and Visalia aren’t far behind.
According to the American Lung Association, air pollution endangers the health and lives of 38 million Californians out of a population of 39 million – nearly every one of us.
At the same time, Californians are on the front line of the devastating impacts of the climate crisis. Catastrophic wildfires, drought and extreme weather are costing us precious lives, destroying property, damaging the state’s natural beauty, inflicting losses on our economy, imperiling our future and – in a vicious cycle – spewing even more pollution into the air.
Air pollution impacts nearly all of us, but low-income communities of color experience its most severe effects, bearing the brunt of this public health hazard. The disparities include greater susceptibility to respiratory infection, a correlation that has been stark in the past two years, when studies have shown a higher incidence of COVID-19 in communities with poorer air quality. In some areas of California, pollution-related death rates can be as much as 30 times higher than in others.
To solve this crisis, California Environmental Voters and the State Association of Electrical Workers have joined other leading environmental, labor and business groups to form Clean Air California, a coalition aimed at ensuring a blue sky future for the next generation of Californians: clean air, fewer extreme wildfires and a healthy home to live, work, play and breathe.
We are advancing a November 2022 ballot initiative – the Clean Cars and Clean Air Act – to restore clean air to California by dramatically reducing emissions from our two largest sources of air pollution: transportation and wildfires.