Cap and Trade Push Yields Millions for Disaster Response Funding


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Grassroots advocacy from CPF membership yields $300 million investment in state’s fire service

Thanks to aggressive advocacy from California Professional Firefighters, California’s mutual aid system received a major injection of funding by way of the state’s recently extended greenhouse gas reduction program. 

In the early summer of 2017, the California Legislature voted to extend the state’s greenhouse gas reduction fund, commonly referred to as the “cap-and-trade” program, through the year 2030. Following the extension, the governor’s office released a funding allocation that saw millions of dollars put toward the state’s mutual aid program, which has been stretched thin by disasters directly resulting from a changing climate.

The proposal, which accounts for a nearly $300 million investment in the state’s fire service, was ultimately approved by the legislature, and will see vital funds being directed to local agencies and CAL FIRE for wildfire protection, prevention and forest health.

In all, the proposal includes:

  • $25 million for local mutual aid response to aid local agencies, which bear a huge burden in mutual aid response, in pre-positioning resources and equipment in areas of greatest risk.
  • $75 million to CAL FIRE for fire prevention to make them whole for the revenue lost with the repeal of the SRA fire fee.
  • Another $220 million to CAL FIRE for forest protection and wildland fire prevention to help reduce the risk of massive fires. 

“The disaster response funding secured through the extension of the cap and trade program will help address California’s growing wildland fire problem, which is both a cause of climate change and one of its most devastating effects,” said CPF President Lou Paulson. “These dollars will help safeguard our climate future while protecting Californians today … here and now.”

In the weeks leading up the final vote, CPF, as well as representatives from the California Fire Chiefs Association, worked to make the case to the Legislature that California’s mutual aid system was in dire need of a dedicated, ongoing source of revenue. The effort saw a joint, labor-management media event, testimony before multiple legislative committees, regular email updates to legislators and their staffs and the activation of CPF’s grassroots network of local affiliates.

“The successful passage of the state’s cap-and-trade funding was a whole team effort, and one that illustrates the full potential of our union’s ability to implement change in Sacramento,” Paulson said. “While there’s still work to be done on California’s mutual aid system, these new funds will help ensure that California is ready to respond when disaster strikes.”