New Laws Aim to Combat Climate Change and Assist Low-Income California Residents

By Isabelle Jeng, Environmental Journalist

On September 23, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into effect a $15 billion package of environmental bills aimed toward combating the climate crisis. Of the 24 bills passed, a handful are notable for their sharp focus on assisting low-income residents and communities. 

Safe Drinking Water

Senate Bill 403 added to the California Safe Drinking Water Act authorizing the State Water Board (SWB), to order the consolidation of water systems that serve a disadvantaged community and are at risk of consistently failing to provide an adequate supply of safe drinking water. 

The SWB found 331 water systems serving about half a million Californians that violated water quality standards. The unsafe contamination levels result from the local agency’s inability to “generate sufficient revenue from its customer base to…address the problem.” 

Home Energy Savers

(SB 756) adds home weatherization services to the Energy Savings Assistance Program (ESAP) for renters or homeowners whose household income falls below 250% of the federal poverty level. Examples of weatherization include attic insulation, caulking, weatherstripping, water-heater blankets, and improvement of low-flow showerheads. Customers can apply for these services through their energy providers’ websites. 

Southern California Edison:

Southern California Gas: 

San Pedro and Wilmington residents, note: The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has an energy- and water-saving assistance program open to all their customers, regardless of income.

Electric Vehicles

A $3.9 billion zero-emission vehicle package will fund “consumer rebates for new zero-emission vehicle purchases and incentives for low-income Californians to replace their old car with a new or used advanced-technology car.” 

One such program the package will fund is the Residential EV Charging Incentive Program, established by the SCAQMD, which provides a rebate on residential chargers with larger rebates for low-income residents. The package will fund other rebate programs such as the Clean Vehicle Rebate Program (CVRB) for California residents who meet income requirements for purchasing or leasing an eligible clean energy vehicle, as well as vehicle buyback programs for some older model vehicles. 

Find details on these programs here: 

Charging –

Replace your ride – 

Clean Vehicle Rebate Program –

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