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Valley Vision Takes the #MyCleanAirPledge

At Valley Vision, we recognize the importance of clean air to the communities we serve.

Air pollution is everyone’s problem – from low-income neighborhoods burdened by diesel truck emissions to homesteads in the rural Sierra foothills, which face dangerous woodsmoke and wildfire risk. According to the American Lung Association, the Sacramento MSA in 2018 has the #5 worst ozone pollution (“smog”) and #19 worst short-term particle pollution (soot, smoke, and exhaust) in the country. Further, the region does not meet federal and state clean air standards, risking harm to our economy and the potential loss of millions of dollars in transportation funds. We also risk harming our environment, our health and our wellbeing.

This is why seven Valley Vision team members joined Breathe California Sacramento Region, each taking an individual #MyCleanAirPledge during the month of May. Below are their thoughts on the successes, challenges, and lessons learned in following their respective clean air commitments:

  • Valley Vision Managing Director Meg Arnold will encourage the Cap-to-Cap 2018 Air Quality team to use bikeshare in DC! #MyCleanAirPledge

“#MyCleanAirPledge benefited from the very willing members of the Air Quality team at Cap-to-Cap. In fact, I didn’t really have to do any “encouraging,” as I had committed to. As of the very first day we were in DC, we were on bikes for the almost-three-mile ride from Union Station back to the Mayflower Hotel at the end of the day’s meetings at the Capitol. We enjoyed a variety of DC’s well-thought-out bikes lanes, team co-captain John Lane’s knowledgeable history of DC bikeshare’s success and fast growth — and also DC’s unseasonably chilly, cloudy, and windy weather that day. Bike sharing continued through the rest of the trip — even including a meeting at EPA that John had to miss, because he was babysitting the group’s bikes, which we’d been unable to dock and return due to the docks all being full! Thanks to my Air Quality team-mates who made #MyAirQualityPledge really easy to succeed at!”

  • Valley Vision Communications Intern Ruben Moody will bring his reusable bags with him when grocery shopping! #MyCleanAirPledge

“Keeping myself accountable for bringing reusable grocery bags has been a great exercise in remembering commitments and taking steps to reduce waste. The first time I went shopping in May I did not bring my bags, but since then I have brought my large bags each time! Because I go to a smaller grocery store, the cashiers have taken notice of me getting better about bringing my reusable bags. I look forward to keeping my pledge going after Clean Air Month wraps up!”

  • Valley Vision Project Manager Adrian Rehn takes the #MyCleanAirPledge to commute to work via bicycle at least 2x per week during the month of May! #MyCleanAirPledge

“I’ll admit it – I have a history of getting a little lazy each Winter when it comes to biking to work and to meetings. This transgression is compounded by the fact that I reside a mere mile and a half from Valley Vision’s Broadway offices. May turned out to be a great month to break my bad habit, as Sacramento’s mythical “Spring” actually lasted more than 3 days, resulting in minimal rain and moderate temperatures – perfect for biking. I have now completed my pledge and even gone further – playing around with those new JUMP Bikes about half a dozen times. I will continue to keep the bike riding momentum going as best I can. See you out there!”

  • Valley Vision Executive Assistant Chloe Pan will force her parents to go to Refill Madness with her this month! #MyCleanAirPledge

“I became more aware of my carbon footprint and how much waste we produce when I was going to school in Santa Barbara. However, I moved back to Placer County after graduation and was tossed back into my parents’ lifestyle – where you don’t think twice about buying chemical drain cleaners, having meat in every meal, or throwing recyclables together with the trash (“They sort it out, sweetie!”). The opportunity to make a Clean Air Pledge gave me the push I needed to introduce my parents to Refill Madness. I can’t say that they were convinced to change their way of life, but it was nice to show them that there truly are concrete, practical, convenient ways of making a difference in our local community.”

  • Valley Vision’s Director of Strategy and Evaluation Evan Schmidt will carpool at least once per week during the month of May! #MyCleanAirPledge

“I’ve kept up my clean air pledge to carpool once a week by carpooling every Monday with Linda Cloud, a friend and neighbor who works at Local Government Commission in downtown Sacramento. Carpooling every Monday has been a great way to connect with a friend every week in addition to reducing air pollution. Also, I drive my electric Leaf (all the time) and so get even more benefit when I’m able to drive with someone else.”

Valley Vision’s Thousand Strong Intern Anessa Chacon and Project Leader Tammy Cronin also took the #MyCleanAirPledge. Anessa committed to reducing pollution in the air by walking to work and Tammy rode the Big Blue Bus (aka El Dorado Transit) to work instead of driving!

Valley Vision, Breathe California Sacramento Region, and the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce anchor the Cleaner Air Partnership, a diverse coalition of business leaders, environmental advocates, regulators, and others who have been helping the Sacramento region protect public health and promote economic growth for 30 years. Keep up with this important work by subscribing to our monthly ‘Cleaner Air News’ email newsletter, or by contacting Project Manager Adrian Rehn at (916) 325-1630 or emailing

Adrian Rehn is a Valley Vision Project Manager overseeing the Cleaner Air Partnership and Valley Vision’s online communications.

Cleaner Air Partnership Tracking EPA’s Moves on Vehicle Emissions

The Sacramento region’s longstanding Cleaner Air Partnership, anchored by Valley Vision, Breathe California Sacramento Region, and the Sacramento Metro Chamber, has been keeping an eye on the Trump Administration’s moves to potentially roll back vehicle emissions standards.

Sources claim that the U.S. Department of Transportation has drafted a proposal to freeze vehicle requirements at 2020 levels through 2026, pulling the plug on progressive emissions requirements put in place by the Obama Administration, and adopted by California leaders. In a region heavily impacted by vehicular, or “mobile source” pollutants, this could deal immense damage to public health and economic vitality in communities across the 7-County Sacramento region.

Alberto Ayala, Executive Director of the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District (SMAQMD), penned an Op-Ed in the Sacramento Bee on this very subject last month, when it became apparent that the EPA was seriously considering these changes. “Rolling back the standards ignores reality – cleaner, more efficient cars are already abundant on our roads — and wastes large investments by automakers. Beyond innovations to gasoline engines, electric vehicles are improving battery life and charging times. And hydrogen fuel cell cars are coming up fast right behind. These advances are reflected in growing sales in California and other leading markets. Electric cars are the superior, no-compromise, and cheat-proof alternative to combustion.”

Erik White, Air Pollution Control Officer for the County of Placer, echoed these concerns. “Cooperative federalism does not abdicate EPA from its responsibilities to protect public health and address climate change. The federal government cannot selectively choose when it wants to support state’s rights and take when it wants to abrogate them. EPA must stay the course on the technologically feasible light duty standards already on the books such that it supports American leadership on automotive standards and the right of California to enact its own standards when necessary.”

These and other experts at the Cleaner Air Partnership will keep you apprised of this conversation as it develops. If you haven’t already, please subscribe to Valley Vision’s Clean Economy newsletter, share this piece through your networks, or email me if you want to be involved in clean air efforts (or know someone who does). Join us! Together we can ensure a more healthy, prosperous, and equitable Sacramento region.

Adrian Rehn is a Valley Vision Project Manager overseeing the Cleaner Air Partnership and Valley Vision’s online communications.

An Epic Day of Giving

Valley Vision joined over 500 of the region’s nonprofits to participate in the Big Day of Giving (BDOG)! BDOG is coordinated by the Sacramento Regional Community Foundation, and assisted nonprofits with raising over $7 million this year, and over $30 million since its inception. We started by snapping photos of our office dogs Kasha and Lily, pondered our best dog related puns, and fine-tuned our messaging. Standing out in a region full of exceptional nonprofits is no easy task, but I drew from my previous experience supporting Big Day of Giving communications. The excitement for BDOG inspired us to put our best communications foot forward to make sure Valley Vision stood out among our region’s impressive nonprofit ecosystem.

Although Valley Vision has previously participated in BDOG, this was the first time that we decided to dedicate all of the funds to a specific project. This year we raised funds to continue to the development of the EPIC Trail, an initiative to connect over 100 miles of biking and walking trails from the Sierra Foothills to Yolo County. The trail could also contribute to a larger regional trail, and link existing paths in the Bay Area and Northern San Joaquin County. Studies have shown that recreational trails increase tourism, boost community health, helps attract new businesses, and are desired by residents of our region. Valley Vision’s own 2017 Public Opinion Survey on Amenities found that a majority of Sacramento region residents view parks and trails as the single most important amenity to their quality of life.

To mobilize the staff around the fundraising campaign, I created a large wall tracker with locations along the proposed EPIC Trail. The day started with the tracker being located in Davis, and as more donations were received, we were able to move the bike along the trail to West Sacramento, Sacramento, and beyond. Every time the tracker was able to be moved was exciting because it was simultaneously representing us raising funds and also visually moving along the trail. With every donation, it became clearer that the region strongly believes in building a contiguous path for recreation. Throughout the day, we were sure to thank our donors on social media, and maintain a steady stream of content.

Assisting with the development and execution of the Communications plan, I learned more about the complexities, and importance of managing an effective fundraising campaign. Asking people to imagine themselves at specific locations on the trail, showing them the existing trails, and emphasizing the flexibility for trails to be used for exercise, recreation, and the arts added the human element of our efforts. My key takeaway is that a communications strategy to support fundraising is a year-round process that does not start when BDOG comes along, but increases and culminates on the Sacramento Region Community Foundation’s annual Big Day of Giving.

Ultimately, Valley Vision was able to raise $1,477 from 17 donors! The generosity of our region brought joy to our staff, and gave the office a fun project to rally behind. Valley Vision is continuing to convene our over seventy stakeholders to ensure that the EPIC Trail comes to fruition. Thank you to those who gave – your generosity will prove transformative to the connectivity of our region!

Ruben Moody is Valley Vision’s Communications Intern.

Air Quality Team Makes Moves at Cap-to-Cap

As usual, the Metro Chamber’s annual Capitol-to-Capitol program was jam-packed, tightly-scheduled, well-run – and very large. This year’s delegation numbered 375, including the business community, local electeds, nonprofit leadership, and representatives from our academic institutions.

The Air Quality team’s seventeen members took an equal number of meetings in two-and-a-half days, with plenty of bike-share commuting as well, despite this being one of the chilliest and rainiest Cap-to-Caps in memory.  The four issue papers we “carried” (on federal funding, forest resilience, biomass, and broadband access) were well-received by the majority of our regional Congressional delegation, as well as by Senators Feinstein and Harris.

More challenging was our conversation with the Environmental Protection Agency, which focused significantly on vehicle emissions standards and the importance of not weakening the Clean Air Act, given all the benefits it has brought to the nation since its inception. Administration appointees debated with us the significance of vehicle emissions and particularly the issue of California continuing its higher standards.

Our discussion with the Majority staffer for the Senate’s Committee on the Environment and Public Works featured a slightly broader range of topics, with two pieces of welcome news and one piece of less ideal, though unsurprising, news. We learned that cuts to EPA’s budget are “not a high priority for many in Congress; that’s more the Administration,” and also that the Committee’s Republican Chair and Democratic Ranking Member are jointly sponsoring a bill that would fund the Diesel Emissions Reductions Act (DERA) at its statutory maximum of $100M. The not-surprising topic was that of CAFÉ  standards (vehicle emissions standards), where our team’s strong points in support were acknowledged but met with a “we’ll have to agree to disagree” response.

As one final note, we were fortunate to benefit from two strong “freshmen” members of the team, who each set a high bar. Alberto Ayala of the Sacramento Metro Air Quality Management District was an able leader of “sub-team Ayala,” while Breathe Board member Paul Adams of Capital Public Radio arranged a special side-tour of the NPR headquarters for Cap-to-Cap attendees.

All in all, it was a successful Cap-to-Cap and the Air Quality team enjoyed a fun and impactful time in D.C. We are all looking forward to next year!

To keep up on the latest Valley Vision and Cleaner Air Partnership news, our research findings and analyses, and personal commentary and thoughts by those on the staff team, sign up for our Cleaner Air News and Vantage Point email newsletters!

Meg Arnold is Managing Director of Valley Vision, leading the Clean Economy and Innovation and Entrepreneurship Strategies.