Many Happy Returns from Cap-and-Trade New Luskin Center study shows low-income California households are benefiting under the landmark climate program

By George Foulsham

Low-income Californians feel the pinch when gasoline, electricity and natural gas prices increase. And it’s logical to think that the state’s Cap-and-Trade program might add to those expenses. But this program is generating billions of dollars to provide an array of benefits to Californians, especially those living in disadvantaged communities.

Now, a first-of-its-kind study by the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation has found that Cap-and-Trade has produced another very positive result. The study, “Protecting the Most Vulnerable: A Financial Analysis of Cap-and-Trade’s Impact on Households in Disadvantaged Communities across California,” revealed that the state has very effectively put in place measures to mitigate any disproportionate impact that might fall on low-income households.

According to the researchers, protective measures implemented by the state could more than offset Cap-and-Trade compliance costs that are passed on to electricity, natural gas and gasoline consumers.

“As consumers of these three industries, we asked what are the Cap-and-Trade compliance costs for these industries,” said J.R. DeShazo, director of the Luskin Center for Innovation and principal investigator on the project. “What is the cost pass-through from the regulated industries to consumers and what are the strategies to reduce those cost pass-throughs from Cap-and-Trade? And, finally, what is the net financial impact?”

Low-income households inevitably are going to bear a stronger burden from regulation because they pay a higher percentage of their income to electricity and natural gas bills as well as to gasoline. But, according to the study, the state has effectively put in place measures to protect low-income Californians as we transition to a cleaner, lower-carbon economy.

“We actually see that, once you factor in those direct and indirect measures, low-income Californians receive a small but still measureable potential benefit,” said Colleen Callahan, deputy director of the Luskin Center and co-author of the report. “We found that electric utility customers could actually gain $200-250 during our study period, which is the length of the Cap-and-Trade program, through 2020.”

The study also found that low-income households could receive an estimated positive impact of between $44 and $83 as natural gas utility customers.

“And for gasoline customers we are predicting a bigger net benefit,” Callahan said. “We estimate that our representative households could receive a cumulated, indirect benefit of approximately $350 to $700 by 2020.”

“I think it’s been a success because of the way they are implementing various price increase mitigation strategies for consumers, and low-income households especially, along with the Cap-and-Trade program,” Julien Gattaciecca, lead author of the study and a Luskin Center researcher, said. “It is very well made and very well thought-out, and gives the rest of the world a leading path to follow.”

Cap-and-Trade was created in 2012 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It requires that the biggest producers of greenhouse gas — including electricity utilities, natural gas utilities and fuel distributors — purchase carbon allowances. The costs of these carbon allowances create price signals that communicate to consumers the amount of GHG emissions associated with electricity, natural gas, and gasoline consumption. “They have to pay to pollute, or they have an incentive to reduce their emissions,” Callahan said.

“It’s a complicated program, but it’s an important one,” she added. “It’s affecting the lives of us Californians. And it’s generating billions — with a B — of dollars and will continue to do so.”

The state’s portion of the Cap-and-Trade proceeds are deposited in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, which are used to make climate investments that further the goals of the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (Assembly Bill 32, Núñez and Pavley). Those climate investments provide tangible benefits — energy efficiency and weatherization upgrades for homes, clean vehicle incentives, tree planting and more — in communities across Californians.

Another portion of the Cap-and-Trade proceeds are being directly returned to the millions of Californians who are residential customers of an investor-owned utility, such as Pacific Gas and Electric and Southern California Edison. Customers of those utilities respectively received $50 to $60 in climate credits on their electricity bills in 2015.

The Luskin report assessed how the provision of climate credits directed to households would mitigate Cap-and-Trade related costs. The study also assessed two other types of strategies that indirectly mitigate these costs. As such, Gattaciecca factored in low-income rate assistance programs, which although unrelated to the Cap-and-Trade Program, can reduce households’ budgetary burden associated with electricity and natural gas consumption.

Gattaciecca also factored in state and industry predicted trends for electricity, natural gas, and gasoline consumption, which are affected by climate investments and other efficiency, fuel switching, and vehicle-miles reducing programs and policies that help households lower their use of energy and fuels. Because these policies and programs can help lower energy and gasoline bills, they indirectly lower any Cap-and-Trade compliance cost passed on to customers.

The Luskin report utilized a case study approach. The state developed a tool, called the CalEnviroScreen, to identify disadvantaged communities that have elevated environmental health and socioeconomic risks, including poverty and pollution. Using CalEnviroScreen, the Luskin researchers chose four California communities for their study.

Gattaciecca also examined American Consumer Survey data and other databases to learn about common characteristics of households within those four case study communities. He then constructed hypothetical but representative profiles of households in each of the case study communities.

“We looked at four households in California,” Gattaciecca said. “We didn’t do that randomly. We took one in Oakland, one in Traver in Tulare County, one in Los Angeles and one in San Bernardino to collectively have a diverse set of case study communities. All four present different patterns when it comes to transportation, racial composition, housing types, family structure, climate and more. That’s the beauty of the report. We cover four very different locations. It’s not just policy and crunching numbers. There’s a human story here.”

“Real households benefits from climate investments deposited into the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund,” Callahan said. Senate Bill 535 (De León) requires that a minimum of 25 percent of the monies in this fund go to projects that benefit disadvantaged communities in California, and a minimum of 10 percent go to projects located in these communities. “I went to Washington, D.C., last year and presented at a national environmental justice conference. This is seen as one of the most significant environmental justice victories of the past decade.”

The results of their study left Callahan and the other researchers impressed.

“The California Air Resources Board is the lead agency on the Cap-and-Trade program and has a lead role in implementing climate investments,” Callahan said. “They’ve done a very thoughtful, thorough job. There’s more that can be done, but we commend them.”

A full copy of the Luskin Center report can be found here.

A Road Map for Advancing Women in Tech New report by Luskin Center provides strategies for reducing inequality in the tech sector

By George Foulsham

The importance of quality mentorships is one of eight key recommendations in a new Luskin Center for Innovation report about strategies for increasing diversity and retaining women in high-tech careers.

The Luskin Center report, “What Are We Missing? Rethinking Public, Private and Nonprofit Strategies to Advance Women in Technology,” is a compilation of feedback from those who attended the April 2015 Women in Tech conference at UCLA and a review of salient literature. The Luskin Center is part of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

The conference brought together 250 influential leaders in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. With a focus on systemic change, the conference strategically explored ways to reduce inequality in the tech sector in three main categories: personal, private, and public. The conference was sponsored in part by Google and Cisco.

“The most important feedback we received from the people who attended —accomplished men and women at all levels of private tech companies, government agencies, nonprofits, startups, academia — was the importance of mentorship,” said Rebecca Sadwick, co-author of the report, one of the conference organizers and a former project manager at the Luskin Center. “The importance of informal mentorship to career advancement didn’t occur to me before we began. Or how these mentorships tend not to cross gender lines. But the importance of understanding this and actively seeking resources to advance men and women’s careers equitably is vital.”

According to the study, technology is one of the fastest growing and most profitable fields. Yet, in the U.S., women and minorities continue to be underrepresented at every stage of the tech pipeline. Despite recent efforts by prominent companies to address the gender and diversity gaps, women’s representation in both technical and executive leadership roles has not greatly improved.

“We are entering into a digital era which will require millions of new tech-related positions to be filled,” the report states. “To the detriment of the American workforce and economy, we currently lack the talent to fill such positions. Educating, recruiting, hiring and retaining women and minorities in STEM professions would not only increase company’s profitability but it would alleviate the societal and economic repercussions of disenfranchising half of the workforce.”

“We have this push to educate computer science to all students,” said Sarah Godoy, lead researcher on the Digital Technology Initiative at the Luskin Center. “It’s wonderful, but if women get into the marketplace, and they’re going in looking for a career, and if they work for a company that doesn’t value them, then they’re not going to succeed. They’re dropping off.

“There needs to be more strategies from both the private and public sectors to really affect change comprehensively,” Godoy added.

Eight overarching themes emerged from the literature review and crowd-sourced knowledge from UCLA’s conference. These themes served to guide the report:

  1. Using data to assess diversity
  2. Providing female entrepreneurs with access to funding models that reduce bias
  3. Focusing on the hiring process to reduce subconscious biases
  4. Standardizing performance reviews
  5. Increasing quality mentorship
  6. Expanding public-private partnerships
  7. Building upon mandate-driven public policies
  8. Commitment to diversity at all levels of leadership

The report outlines strategies for startup and small companies, medium and large companies, resource providers, the public sector, and academia and the education pipeline.

“We knew going into the conference that public policy strategies were limited and fragmented, but the research that followed really underscored just how limited public strategies are,” Sadwick said. “With few exceptions, strategies to advance women and diversity in the tech sector remain fragmented by state and local municipalities.

“Companies themselves still play the most direct role in addressing the diversity gap,” Sadwick added. “Companies that make it a priority at all levels of leadership to counter systemic inequalities that limit their talent pool have remarkable success.”

Lessons learned from the companies that get it right can be the guideposts for everybody, according to the study.

“By observing the strategies that have been effective in other companies and countries,” Sadwick said, “and measuring the impact of the tactics tried throughout an organization, they are more likely to implement tactics that directly impact their company’s ability to attract and retain top talent of all backgrounds.”

The full report can be found at

Board of Advisors Member Reynolds Receives Honorary Doctorate Vicki Renolds recognized for her philanthropic work


By Angel Ibañez
UCLA Luskin Student Writer

UCLA Luskin board member Vicki Reynolds was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by The American Jewish University for her philanthropy and civic leadership at the university’s 65th annual commencement ceremony May 17..

Reynolds is extensively involved in advocating for education through her involvement as president of the Beverly Hills Board of Education and as a member of the California State Board of Education. Reynolds is also a Trustee of the California State Summer School for the Arts, serves on the regional Board of the American Jewish Committee, the Board of Directors of The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts and is a staunch supporter of women’s and civil rights. She is a member of UCLA Luskin’s Board of Advisors.

Reynolds also served three terms as mayor of Beverly Hills and was elected the City Council for twelve consecutive years.

As a result of her leadership, the city purchased The Historic Beverly Post Office from the Federal Government and led to the creation of The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.

Reynolds has been recognized for her work by the Maple Counseling Center and the UCLA Alumni Association, which named Reynolds Alumnus of the Year in 2002.

She has been awarded the Legion D’Honneur, the French government’s highest honor given to a foreign citizen.

A graduate of UCLA, Reynolds earned her bachelor’s degree in Political Science from UCLA and a Degree Superieur from La Sorbonne at The University of Paris.

75 Percent of L.A. County Water Systems Vulnerable to Drought



Despite the importance of potable water to the quality of life, economy, and ecosystems in Los Angeles County, surprisingly little is known about the 228 government and private entities that deliver water, and how vulnerable or resilient they are to withstanding pressures from droughts and climate change. A new study by the UCLA Luskin Center fills this gap and finds that 75% of community drinking water systems in L.A. County exhibit at least one indicator of supply vulnerability due either to dependency on a single type of water source, local groundwater contamination, small size, or a projected increase in extreme heat days over the coming decades.

The Luskin Center’s Los Angeles County Community Water System Atlas and Policy Guide Volume I presents a high-level view of the drinking water systems that serve L.A. County based on in-depth system-level profiles of water sources, service population characteristics, and built environments. This is the most complete, publicly accessible set of maps ever created of L.A. County’s community drinking water systems, which range from major municipal water providers like the L.A. Department of Water and Power, to small utilities serving mobile home parks and remote communities.

The Water Atlas highlights both the County’s vulnerable water systems and the more resilient water systems, based on an investigation of all community water systems that provide drinking water to LA County consumers. Findings of vulnerability include:

  • Over a third of the water systems serving L.A. County (79 out of 228 water systems) are 100% dependent on groundwater, an indicator of vulnerability because water systems that rely solely on groundwater may exhaust critical supplies during droughts, are challenged by the presence of local contamination, and have fewer supply alternatives compared to systems with a diversified water supply portfolio. Most of these systems serve small communities in northern LA County, where groundwater withdrawals are not regulated.
  • Of every county in the state, L.A. County has the greatest number of community water systems that rely on contaminated groundwater sources: nearly 40% of community water providers in LA County got their water from a groundwater source that exceeded drinking water Maximum Contaminant Levels at least once over the period of 2002-2010.
  • L.A. County is home to nearly 100 very small and small community water systems (serving 3,300 or fewer residents year-round) located in both urban and rural areas. These smaller systems often lack the technical, managerial, and financial capacity to withstand the impact of severe drought conditions and overcome water quality and treatment challenges.
  • Communities in Azusa, Covina, and El Monte may see over 30 additional days with surface temperatures over 95 °F by 2050, increasing water demand for residential landscapes, public green spaces, and agricultural uses, if these uses are retained.

The state is experiencing its fourth consecutive year of severe drought conditions and new sources of funding are now available for drinking water systems through Proposition 1 and emergency drought relief assistance. Managers of these state funding programs supporting access to safe drinking water and drought resiliency may use this Water Atlas to identify at-risk drinking water systems and disadvantaged populations that have the most to gain from state financial and technical assistance. Policymakers and researchers may use this report to evaluate impacts of state and federal water policies on specific community drinking water systems.

This report is the first in a series of three volumes dedicated to expanding knowledge of drinking water systems in L.A. County, with respect to policies, practices, risks, and opportunities. The approach used in this report is easily scalable and could be applied to every county in the state to inform water policymakers and researchers in California.

The report is available for viewing or download online.

An Officer and a Graduate Student Lr. Michael Fonbuena's commitment to UCLA Luskin



By Angel Ibañez
UCLA Luskin Student Writer

When second-year Public Policy student Lt. Michael Fonbuena searched for programs offered by the Navy to earn his graduate degree while continuing his career in the service, he found the Career Intermission Program and chose to attend UCLA Luskin.

The program was implemented in 2009 and gives service members the opportunity to take a one- to three-year break to pursue personal or professional growth and return to active duty following the hiatus.

Fonbuena was attracted to UCLA Luskin for its unique location and the range of policy challenges engaged by the School, as well as the interdisciplinary focus that would bridge his passion for international issues.

When he first arrived at UCLA Luskin he came in knowing what he wanted to study, but his interests quickly expanded as he was exposed to new ideas.

“I came in thinking I knew exactly what I wanted to do and what my interests were,” Fonbuena says, “but by expanding outside of my comfort zone and taking courses I hadn’t exactly intended, I have gained tremendous interest in several new topics.”

One of these new topics has been cybersecurity, and its legal implications, both within and outside of the military framework.

“Currently I am finishing a course in the Law School on cyber law and policy which has greatly piqued my interest not only in the security implications of cyber, which is of great interest to the military, but also on the legal ramifications of things we hear about on a daily basis,” Fonbuena says.

Such classes benefit greatly from students with unique backgrounds. As a sailor and a Naval Academy graduate, Michael has brought a unique viewpoint to many of his classes.

“I remember a few classes with Professor DeShazo where I felt I was able to provide insight on a personal level that some in my cohort might have found useful—specifically on the case study of the Tailhook scandal, and in general discussing what it was like working within such a large bureaucracy at the Department of Defense,” he says.

The intersection of ideas from its students with diverse backgrounds is at the center of UCLA Luskin’s mission to cultivate change agents who will advance solutions to society’s most pressing problems.

Fonbuena has benefited from this exchange, he says, and he will keep as he pursues his career.

“It really taught me that everyone brings something different to the table and can add valuable input. It’s a valuable lesson that I will take back to the Navy with me.”

Another unique resource Michael believes has helped him develop as a person and expand his knowledge of issues has been the guest speakers that come to UCLA Luskin, including former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

“I honestly feel that by not taking advantage of the opportunity to learn from these individuals, students are doing themselves a huge disservice, both personally and professionally,” Fonbuena says.

As his time at UCLA Luskin is coming to an end, Michael says his experience has reinvigorated him.

“My experience here has recharged my batteries and left me with a desire to utilize the tools I’ve learned to make the Navy a better organization in any capacity I can,” he says.

“I developed a diversity of thought which I lacked prior to attending Luskin, which in the future will enable me to see problems through a wider lens and make more thoughtful and diverse decisions.”

Liberty Hill Foundation Honors Dean Frank Gilliam Dean Gilliam is recipient of the Upton Sinclair Award for commitment to social justice.


Dean Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr. received Liberty Hill Foundation’s Upton Sinclair Award given to those dedicated to advancing social justice at the 33rd annual Upton Sinclair Awards dinner on April 21.

The Liberty Hill Foundation is an organization dedicated to social advancement by funding leaders and programs that create positive environmental or social change for Los Angeles. Named after the muckraking journalist who was an activist and protested for freedom of speech, the Upton Sinclair award recognizes people who demonstrate an active commitment to social justice. Past winners include the novelist Walter Mosely, media personality Arianna Huffington, actors and activists Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins.

Gilliam is recognized for his innovative work at the Luskin School, promoting strong programs, leadership and research as well as preparing students who have gone on to serve in different communities internationally.

“Liberty Hill is proud to present this year’s award to Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr., Dean of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, for his work preparing a new generation of leaders to effectively serve and positively impact communities both locally and internationally,” the news release said. “His commitment to social justice is evident in his leadership of the school and its programs, positioning UCLA Luskin’s teaching and research to make significant impacts on issues of shared concern with Liberty Hill.”

Dean Gilliam has started leadership initiatives and campaigns to expand the school’s impact. Since becoming dean, the Luskin School’s research on immigration, drug policy, prison reform, inequality, environment and transportation, among other topics have been expanded to make a more profound impact in education in the Los Angeles community, leading to social, economic and environmental improvements.

As a board member and senior fellow for the FrameWorks Institute, Gilliam directed the “Framing Race in America” project and contributed research and training on other issues including health care, child development and criminal justice. Gilliam chairs the board of trustees for the Blue Shield of California Foundation, and serves on the boards of United Way of Greater Los Angeles and Southern California Grantmakers.

Gilliam’s contributions, his multitude of published books and academic journals, including “Farther to go: Readings and Cases in African-American Politics,” and several media recognitions by sources like CNN, the New York Times and the Washington Post demonstrate Gilliam’s prominence and aptitude for being a leading innovator in social impact.


Luskin Center Deputy Director Briefs U.S. EPA Leadership and National Conference Participants on Advancing Climate Justice Luskin Center representative at EPA Conference

One of the most significant events in the arena of climate justice took place when California’s Senate Bill 535 (SB 535) was signed into law, stated Charles Lee of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and one of the nation’s most prominent leaders on environmental justice.  SB 535 mandates that at least 25% of the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund investments go to projects that benefit disadvantaged communities.

Colleen Callahan, deputy director of the UCLA Luskin Center, was one of four SB 535 leaders from California invited by Lee to meet with senior EPA staff and also speak on a panel at the National Environmental Justice Conference on March 12 and 13th in Washington D.C. In addition to Callahan, the other panelists were the “father of SB 535” Shankar Prasad of the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA, and formerly with the Coalition for Clean Air); Mari Rose Taruc, organizing director for the Asian Pacific Environmental Network and coordinator of SB 535 Coalition; and Arsenio Mataka, assistant secretary of environmental justice and tribal affairs, CalEPA.

The panelists shared the “backstory” of the efforts to conceive, pass and now implement SB 535.  They provided first hand perspectives on lessons regarding their successes and challenges—past and present, as well as implications for other parts of the nation.

Callahan emphasized that SB 535 and the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) represent a tremendous opportunity to advance climate justice. She also noted the challenge in implementing such a major and unprecedented initiative. Pulling from the UCLA report on SB535 entitled, “Investment Justice through the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund,” she provided key recommendations for implementing the GGRF to ensure the investments maximize environmental, economic and public health benefits for communities across California most in need. The recommended evaluation and performance management approach draws from an earilier report “Pathways to Environmental Justice: Advancing a Framework for Evaluation” created by the UCLA Luskin Center in collaboration with EPA and EJ leaders from across the nation.

Luskin Center Director Briefs State Senators on Benefits of California’s Climate Policy Portfolio Faculty member J.R. DeShazo speaks at Democratic Senate policy retreat

California State Senators and Governor Jerry Brown gathered in Sacramento this week for the annual Democratic Senate policy retreat to discuss issues of statewide and national importance. J.R. DeShazo, director of the Luskin Center, briefed them on the economic benefits of California’s climate portfolio. The focus of his talk was the tremendous opportunity to build prosperous, healthy and livable communities through the State’s new Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF). The GGRF will soon have billions of dollars to support transit, clean vehicles, sustainable communities, energy efficiency, renewable energy, urban greening and more.

Senate President pro tempore Kevin de León invited Professor DeShazo to be part of a three-person panel moderated by Senator Fran Pavley. Pavley authored AB 32, the landmark Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 that propelled California as a global climate policy leader. Now the nation and world are watching as California implements an important element of AB 32, the cap-and-trade program, which places the world’s first economy wide cap on carbon pollution and establishes market mechanisms to price carbon credits. These auction proceeds go into the GGRF. Senate Bill 535 (de León) requires that at least 25 percent of the investments benefit disadvantaged communities. DeShazo shared stories about how programs funded by the GGRF have already provided real benefits to low-income communities and households across California, including through job creation, houshold energy cost savings, and clean air health benefits.

Luskin Center research and event organizing is helping to advance the strategic and equitable implementation of climate investments to maximize local benefits to disadvantaged communities. For more information, see our SB 535 research report and this overview presentation.


Luskin Center Debuts Report Advancing Workforce to meet Electrified Transportation Needs

Luskin Center Electric Transport

The Luskin Center teamed with Edison International and Southern California Edison to develop a roadmap for the creation of a wide array of curricula to train the workforce required to meet the demands of transportation electrification.

The report Transportation Electrification (TE) Curriculum Development produces: 1) an analysis of the existing state of TE-specific education and training and 2) recommendations for the future of TE workforce training, developed out of stakeholder engagement.

Increasing TE demand is driven in large part by a new era in the commercialization of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs). Although PEV markets are still young, the vehicles are the road today will shift billions of miles of driving to clean electric-drive operation, and PEV adoption is expected to increase significantly in the coming years. This early progress has been achieved in spite of educational deficiencies in the workforce supporting transportation electrification (TE) supply chains. These supply chains include for PEVs, charging stations and electric grid modernization.

TE supply chain are supported by workers requiring a wide range of skills–including electricians,computer specialists, infrastructure installers, PEV-readiness planners, utility planners, corporate strategic planners, and scientists–yet there are relatively few educational and vocational programs dedicated to TE relevant training.

This project addresses this gap. Through the engagement of educational, industry, and other collaborators, this project seeds a multi-phase process of transportation-electrification (TE) curriculum development.

Luskin Center’s Los Angeles River Greenway Toolkit project receives funding from Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation

Metro LA River photo_0The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation has a awarded a grant of approximately $80,000 to the Luskin Center to develop a “how-to” manual for community-driven greenway projects along the Los Angeles River. Recognizing the vast untapped potential for accessible active transportation and healthy recreational opportunities along the River, and several decades of progress already made by community-based non-profits and local government in the northern part of the River, the Luskin Center set out to compile, analyze and repackage decades of institutional wisdom into an accessible and application-oriented guide called a “toolkit.” This toolkit will present step-by-step instructions for community leaders interested in developing: 1) a multi-modal linear pathway along the Los Angeles River, 2) a River-adjacent green open space, 3) a neighborhood access point or 4) a multi-modal bridge to improve access across the River.

Despite several decades of grass-roots and local government attention to the Los Angeles River, communities still lack the resources and tools that they need to engage directly with the River revitalization process. The Los Angeles River Greenway Toolkit project fills a vital gap with an accessible and well-researched guide designed to support river-adjacent communities. Henry McCann is the project manager and is working with graduate student researchers Andrew Pasillas and Shafaq Choudry, in addition to collaborating with a myriad of community organizations.