It’s essential to protect the California environment – and jobs

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY — The oil and gas industry is one of the largest in California, directly employing more than 152,000 people.

Nearly two-thirds of these workers don’t have a bachelor’s degree, and yet they earn about $80,500 a year on average. And importantly, many of these workers live and work right here in Contra Costa County, which is home to four of the five Bay Area refineries.

I am proud that our state is a global leader on climate-change policy, setting and achieving ambitious goals to protect our environment. However, as we strive to reach these goals, it is imperative that we do so without jeopardizing the livelihoods of thousands of union workers that are employed in the energy sector.

As we transition to clean fuels and high-tech energy, it is a matter of both equity and economic justice that we support the growth of high-paying jobs and industries to replace those which are being phased out. The green economy presents us with the opportunity to not only protect our planet, but to also empower workers, particularly those within historically marginalized communities, by investing in their training and education.

Competitive Advantage

In order to give our region a competitive advantage in the next era of the energy economy, I have authored Assembly Bill 844 to create a Green Empowerment Zone that will prioritize access to tax incentives, grants, loan programs, workforce training programs, and private sector investment in the clean and green energy sector.

The zone will be compromised of government agencies that will seek to leverage each other’s strengths and resources, as well as work in partnership with the private sector, universities and other local organizations. This will help our region access the full scope of available economic development tools such as Opportunity Zones, the California Energy Commission’s Clean Transportation Program and the California Workforce Development Board’s High Road Training Partnerships Program.

I have already had a number of productive meetings with local stakeholders on my bill and am encouraged that Congressman Mark DeSaulnier has introduced three pieces of legislation with a similar focus on transitioning our economy to cleaner energy while still supporting workers. He aims to accomplish this by providing direct support to local communities, investing in our transportation systems and launching a federal program to accelerate the expansion of electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

I’m thankful for his passion in this area and look forward to partnering with him to advocate for these goals.

Building a bridge

The reality is that California won’t be able to truly achieve our environmental goals without building a bridge between working families and the green economy, and our region must start building that bridge now.

The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply impacted our state’s economy and millions of California families. In many ways, it has exacerbated existing problems such as our housing and homelessness crisis, our high cost of living and economic pressure of the middle class.

It is clear to me that Californians cannot afford to wait for our systemic, long-term issues to be addressed, nor can we afford policymakers to continue to think reactively. Now is the time for innovative solutions that will allow our communities to recover and rebuild and help our economy to flourish again; and this is what I will continue to fight for in California.

Reach Assemblyman Tim Grayson at (925) 521-1511. Visit or write the district office 2151 Salvio Street, Suite P, Concord, CA 94520