Environment & Science

Poor, minority communities stand to benefit from well-drawn AB32 rules

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Poor areas near refineries and power plants could benefit from laws requiring greenhouse gas cuts that also aim to reduce pollution. KPCC's Molly Peterson has more on a new report from the Hewlett Foundation.

Some of the biggest emitters of gases that contribute to global warming sit in California's poorest neighborhoods. Oil refineries, cement plants and power facilities aren't going anywhere, but state law requires that their greenhouse gas disappear.

A new study from USC and other California researchers points out that these carbon contributors also send out pollutants that cause asthma and heart disease to surrounding neighborhoods in their emissions. Regulators are considering a carbon market for hundreds of the state's largest emitter.

But state law also requires that the design of such a market takes into account air pollution and health effects from those in the marketplace. The new report says that's an especially important caveat in poor and minority neighborhoods.

Researchers say a carbon market that protects vulnerable people is possible. Carefully crafted rules could limit the way companies trade away their responsibilities to cut greenhouse gases, or give poor neighborhoods a share of the money from credits for carbon.