Governor Newsom has taken a bold first step. Urge him to do more.

After several weeks of record-breaking heat, fires, and smoke, Governor Newsom today reiterated that we are in a climate emergency and announced Executive Order N-79-20 requiring 100% of all new in-state sales of cars and light trucks to be zero-emissions vehicles by 2035. 

This makes California the first state in the nation to ban new gas-powered cars.

Please join us in thanking the governor for his bold action!

With transportation being the single largest source of global warming pollutants in California and nationwide, today’s announcement is a major step forward. As the biggest car market in the US, California wields significant influence on other car markets across the country and the world. 

We are also pleased that the new Executive Order also includes provisions for phasing out fracking in California, as well as publication by next summer of plans to support and “expeditiously” implement a just transition for workers employed in fossil fuel industries. 

Today’s announcement is a significant step toward the comprehensive policy recommendations The Climate Center has been recommending recently to the Newsom Administration and other state leaders. 

In fact, the Climate Center recently sent our proposed comprehensive DRAFT Executive Order to the Governor, based on the latest science and rapidly worsening climate reality, and building on Climate-Safe California.

The governor anticipates issuing additional Executive Orders over the weeks ahead.

To fully address the climate emergency, we urge him to accelerate California’s existing greenhouse gas reduction targets to achieve 80% below 1990 emissions levels and net-negative emissions by 2030. We also request that he commit to other key steps including:

  • an immediate halt to new gas and oil drilling permits, a start to the phase-out of fossil fuel production and exports, 
  • a commitment to 100% clean electricity by 2030, 
  • a dramatic ramp-up of investments in nature-based sequestration through habitat and soils management, and,
  • major investments in community resilience, including regulatory changes that open up markets for clean energy microgrids and decentralized clean energy. 

Thank you Governor Newsom for re-asserting California’s climate leadership at this critical moment!

While today’s announcement is a significant step forward, the latest science demands more aggressive actions be taken sooner for the health of our planet and the health of our communities, especially frontline lower-income communities and communities of color. 

We urge Governor Newsom to issue additional Executive Orders to fully address the climate crisis.

California’s climate policies are still substantially behind what is required to secure a climate-safe future. They are also behind new national proposals which include achieving 100% clean electricity by 2030, major investments in natural and working lands for carbon sequestration, and scaled up community resilience efforts, including clean energy microgrids. 

California law currently calls for just 60% renewable energy by 2030, has no major programs investing in natural and working lands, and only aspires to carbon neutrality by 2045. It is not enough! California must do more for the country to realize these urgently needed proposed national goals.

Thank Governor Newsom today for his history-making Executive Order and support him doing more. 

As part of numerous Climate Week 2020 NYC virtual activities, Governor Newsom will be hosting California Climate Action Day, September 24 from 9 AM – 2 PM, including a discussion with Van Jones about how California can develop an aggressive climate change agenda. The events can be viewed after on the Governor’s YouTube page here.  

Take action today to let the Governor know that we support his taking the bold, urgently needed action now! 

Lawmakers let oil and gas interests sicken us. Governor Newsom can put us on the path to recovery. (CalMatters op-ed by The Climate Center)

By Venise Curry, MD, and Ellie Cohen, Special to CalMatters

September 14, 2020

https://calmatters.org/commentary/my-turn/2020/09/lawmakers-let-oil-and-gas-interests-sicken-us-gov-newsom-can-put-us-on-the-path-to-recovery/

Make no mistake about it. Climate change is powering California’s perfect storm of record heat, lightning, drought, wildfire and smoke amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and electricity blackouts.

In his video message to the Democratic National Convention in August, Governor Gavin Newsom made it clear. “The hots are getting hotter; the dries are getting drier. Climate change is real. If you are in denial about climate change, come to California.” While touring the devastating North Complex Fires near Oroville this past Friday, Governor Newsom called current state goals “inadequate to meet the challenges” and vowed to fast-track state efforts to combat the climate crisis.

Yet California continues to fan the flames as the seventh largest oil producing and third largest refining state in the country.

State lawmakers, with the exception of a few climate leaders, are increasingly falling under the thrall of oil and gas industry dollars. The Western States Petroleum Association, the largest and most powerful corporate lobby in California, spent $8.8 million on lobbying in 2019 alone.

Californians are being poisoned daily by pollutants emitted from California’s 81,500 active and idle oil and gas wells, pumps, refineries and pipes. Toxic oil and gas infrastructure – from freeways to oil rigs – are too often located in communities of color, dangerously close to homes, schools and hospitals due to historic redlining and racist redevelopment policies.

More than 5.5 million Californians live within 1 mile of an oil or gas well, exposing them regularly to polluted air and increased risk for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Pregnant women living within 6 miles of oil and gas wells are significantly more likely to experience preterm birth with low birth weights. Research shows that these children face a greater risk of infections, developmental delays and other health problems.

Oil and gas wells also release carcinogens like benzene into neighboring communities as well as warming greenhouse pollutants into the atmosphere.

On Aug. 5, lawmakers in Sacramento had the chance to take one modest step to reduce the harmful impacts of oil and gas development by passing Assembly Bill 345. It would have required state regulators to establish a minimum health and safety barrier from wells, as already exists in other states. Unfortunately, it failed on a 5-4 vote, just one example of how policymakers bow to fossil fuel interests instead of prioritizing the health and well-being of all Californians.

We urgently need state policymakers to step it up.

New national climate plans call for a range of expedited actions to address the climate crisis. Proposals include achieving 100% clean electricity by 2030, 100% zero emissions vehicles by 2035 and near-zero emissions by 2040.

But current California law calls for just 60% renewables by 2030, provides no deadline for phasing-out gas powered cars or trucks, and only aspires to carbon neutrality by 2045.

We can – and we must – do better, as the Governor said.

To protect the health and well-being of Californians and to catalyze greater climate action around the nation and the world, California must expand and accelerate its climate policies.

Boldly addressing the climate crisis will yield significant, widespread improvements in health and a huge economic payoff. Every dollar spent on renewables creates three times as many jobs as compared to fossil fuels. And clean energy industries create jobs 70% faster than the economy as a whole.

To back up his urgent message that we are in a climate emergency, Newsom is uniquely positioned to jumpstart policies that will protect Californians and re-establish the state’s global climate leadership.

By partnering with the building and construction unions, and others representing fossil fuel and utility industry workers, alongside environmental justice leaders, public health organizations, local governments, clean energy businesses, climate experts and others, the governor can “fast-track” urgent climate action.

With Newsom’s bold leadership, we can rapidly secure a just transition to a healthy, equitable and vibrant clean energy future for all.

Venise Curry, MD, is a community organizer and board member of The Climate Center, veniseaaimcouncil@gmail.com. The intersection between medicine, environmental and social justice issues are at the core of her advocacy efforts in Fresno County.

 Ellie Cohen is CEO of The Climate Center and leads Climate-Safe California, a statewide campaign to enact policies required by science to reverse the climate crisis, ellie@theclimatecenter.org.

Blackouts: Let’s build reliable clean power

“One factor that did not cause the rotating outage: California’s commitment to clean energy. Renewable energy did not cause the rotating outages.” That’s right, California’s climate policies and clean energy goals did not cause the state’s recent blackouts, as the three lead California energy agencies wrote in a letter to the Governor and the Legislature in August.

The solution to periods of high demand for electricity such as during heatwaves has historically been to increase supply. California Public Utilities Commission current rules require utilities to buy 15% excess energy capacity beyond what they would need during the forecast peaks for a given time of year. This approach failed us in August.

A 21st-century clean, reliable, safe, and equitable energy system can make the difference.

Clean energy community microgrids can enable utilities to better target specific outages and to isolate local electricity generation from the larger grid. This would ensure that essential governmental, health, and other services would remain powered in communities during outages.

As I wrote in The Climate Center’s op-ed published this past Sunday in the Sacramento Bee, “With wildfire season fully upon us, more power shutoffs leaving Californians in the dark are imminent. Add an economic crisis and a pandemic and it’s clear there is no time to lose.”

Sadly, PG&E’s approach to reliable power this year has included dirty diesel back-up generators that exacerbate climate change and create air pollution making us all more vulnerable to COVID– while not actually ensuring a stable grid.

Ironically, the first day that the blackouts hit, August 14, was also a deadline for formal comments on microgrids at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which regulates utilities such as PG&E. The Climate Center recently filed comments with Vote Solar urging the CPUC to fast-track its current rulemaking to open up microgrid markets and prioritize clean energy resilience for lower-income communities in particular.

We also have the technology right now to automatically reduce electricity use on the grid. Pre-agreements with large commercial and industrial customers can ensure that power is made available when needed to keep the system stable. Customers can even get paid to allow it, which is already happening in some places. The August blackouts were the result of a one-gigawatt (1,000 megawatts) shortfall, but this approach has been estimated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to have the potential to free up over 4 gigawatts for California.

The dramatic climate impacts we are seeing right now here in California are further evidence of the urgency to act on the climate crisis. Please join us in supporting Community Energy Resilience and endorse Climate-Safe California today. Our science-based goal is to achieve net-negative emissions and the start of drawdown by 2030 in California, inspiring our country and the world to accelerated climate action.

To date, we have over 500 endorsements including businesses, non-profits, individuals, and government officials (see more here). Join us to help us exceed 1000 endorsements by December before the next session of the state legislature. Share this with your family, friends, and colleagues, and ask them to endorse and engage.

Together we will build the power required to secure a just transition to a climate-safe, equitable future for all.

Let’s ensure that communities already burdened by pollution benefit from a transition to clean energy

Joe Biden’s selection of Kamala Harris as his running mate sent a message that climate change policy in a Biden Administration will focus on ensuring that communities already burdened by pollution benefit from a transition to clean energy, following up on Senator Harris’ recent proposed legislation, the Climate Equity Act.

Equity was also the focus of The Climate Center’s  Community Energy Resilience Policy Summit on August 5th.

Click here to view the highlights of the 3-hour online summit.

The Summit started with a video summarizing results from recent research from UCLA highlighting inequities created by clean energy incentive programs.

The opening keynote speaker, Oxnard Mayor Pro Tem Carmen Ramirez, reviewed her city’s successful struggle to halt construction of new local fossil fuel infrastructure.

The first panel provided an overview of state clean energy resilience policy moderated by Janea Scott, Vice-Chair of the California Energy Commission (CEC). Vice-Chair Scott described CEC-funded resilience projects.  California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Commissioner Genevieve Shiroma reviewed CPUC resilience-related programs, particularly the Self Generation Incentive Program.  Eric Lamoureufrom the California Office of Emergency Services explained the state’s response to emergencies including wildfires and public safety power shutoffs.   California Senator Henry Stern discussed his recent related legislative efforts and the importance of advocates in shaping state policy, including an endorsement of The Climate Center’s Climate-Safe California initiative.

The second panel, “What is a just transition and how do we get there?” was moderated by labor attorney Mark Kyle. CSU Professor Vivian Price described the concept of “just transition” as initially having the objective of providing a future for workers particularly impacted by efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions, and that more recently, the term has envisioned a world in which fairness, equity and ecological rootedness are core values.  Jennifer Kropke with IBEW and the National Electrical Contractors Association explained transition challenges. Coal and natural gas power plants are large, take time to construct, and require a lot of maintenance, while renewable energy generation is very different in how it is currently constructed and maintained. There are huge wage and benefit disparities between non-union rooftop solar installers and oil refinery operators.

The third panel, “Environmental Justice – energy systems and policies that serve frontline communities” was moderated by Janina Turner from The Climate Center.  Nayamin Martinez with the Central California Environmental Justice Network addressed efforts to fight environmental racism in the San Juaquin Valley — challenging because critical employers are the same companies creating pollution. Gabriela Orantes with the North Bay Organizing Project explained how disaster relief and recovery efforts in Sonoma County have systematically excluded the most vulnerable.  Mari Rose Taruc with Reclaim Our Power described environmental justice successes in recent years and also provided provocative details of remaining  environmental injustices occurring in California and the need to further democratize the governance of our energy system and California policy process, currently with mostly white people making decisions.

The final panel, “Community choice energy: building clean energy resilience for low-income customers” was moderated by Carolyn Glanton of Sonoma Clean Power.  Sage Lang with Monterey Bay Community Power provided examples of her agency’s resilience-related programs.  Stephanie Chen from MCE Clean Energy explained the severe impacts of PG&E’s 2019 power shutoffs and MCE’s resulting new energy resilience programs.  JP Ross from East Bay Community Energy described EBCE’s resilient homes program as well as severe impacts from PG&E disconnections.

For more information, check out the Summit agenda with links to presentations,  speaker biographies,  and a link to the full Summit video.

More than 95% of all Federal drilling occurs in established fields within the Kern County area of the San Joaquin Valley.

California oil production limits stall in Legislature, leaving the issue to Newsom

by 


Highlights

  • Assembley Bill 345, legislation that would have mandated setbacks of oil drilling sites from homes, schools, and other community dwellings, was voted down 5-4
    • The bill would have also required the Department of Conservation to create an environmental justice progam where residents near drilling sites could voice their concerns
  • Currently the state houses 1,175 active offshore wells and 60,643 active onshore wells
  • While more than 5.4 million Californians lived within one mile of a drilling site and exposure to the pollution is known to cause health effects, Governor Gavin Newsom allowed almost 50 new fracking permits since April
  • Residents of the Central Valley, particular Black and Brown residents, continue to experience the pollution and health effects of continued fracking and drilling at disporortionate rates
  • The state Department of Conservation has been holding online and in-person meetings with communities near oil drilling sites discussing proposed public health and safety protections, but these proposed regulations have not been released

Increased air pollution from fossil fuel emissions disproportionately affects Black, Indigenous, People of Color. Divestment from big oil and securing  100% clean energy in California’s frontline communities is critical to achieving The Climate Center’s goals under the Climate-Safe California Platform.


Read More: https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-08-13/setbacks-legislation-california-oil-gas-production-environmental-protections-newsom

Harris and Ocasio-Cortez team up on a Climate ‘Equity’ Bill

by Ilana Cohen, Inside Climate News


Highlights

  • California Senator Kamala Harris and Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez unveiled an updated version of their Climate Equity Act that was initially released a year ago as Senator Harris was running for the Democratic Presidential nomination
  • The Climate Equity Act would:
    • Create an Office of Climate and Environmental Justice Accountability 
    • Require the government to consider the impact of any environmental legislation or regulation on low-income communities by using an equity score created by climate experts and community leaders to assess the equity impacts of new legislation
    • Redirect capital to marginalized communities of color by increasing the diversity of recipients of federal grants and loans in order to make these opportunities more accessible
  • Representative Ocasio-Cortez explains that diversity is needed while creating new policies:

For too long, policies that affect communities of color have been determined by a few white men in a room in Washington… I’m proud to partner with Senator Harris on a bill that will pave the way for a new, inclusionary way of doing things in D.C.”


Senator Kamala Harris is Presidential Nominee Joe Biden’s pick for Vice President. Centering equitable climate legislation and policies for California’s frontline communities is one of The Climate Center’s guiding principles


Read More: https://insideclimatenews.org/news/05082020/kamala-harris-alexandria-ocasio-cortez-climate-equity-bill

Seattle Black Lives Matter protest by Kelly Kline

How the fossil fuel industry drives climate change and police brutality

by


Highlights

  • Public Accountability Initiative and LittleSis released a new report detailing how oil companies fund police foundations across the country
    • These foundations are non-profits that raise money to buy weapons, equipment, and surveillance technology for police departments
  • Some fossil fuel companies have also supported legislation that would criminalize protesting pipelines
  • Big banks with fossil fuel investments as well as some private utilities have also donated to police foundations 
  • Activists, including the authors of this report, are connecting the dots between policing and environmental justice:

“…divesting from fossil fuels and fighting to end environmental racism goes hand in hand with defunding the police in the fight for racial justice and reinvestment in Black and Brown communities.”


Increased air pollution from fossil fuel emissions disproportionately affects Black, Indigenous, People of Color. Divestment from big oil and securing  100% clean energy in California’s frontline communities is critical to achieving The Climate Center’s goals under the Climate-Safe California Platform.


Read More: https://grist.org/justice/how-the-fossil-fuel-industry-drives-climate-change-and-police-brutality/

California greenlights ‘Orwellian’ solar-powered fracking scheme


Highlights

  • California Governor Gavin Newsom approved two rounds drilling permits for Chevron this summer, furthering criticism from environmental groups
    • Since lifting the moratorium on fracking, Governor Newsom has approved 36 new fracking permits in Lost Hills to Aera Energy, a company he has close ties with 
    • Chevron was given permission to frack 12 wells before July 4th
  • Chevron plans to use solar panels to power their drilling operations in the Lost Hills Oil Field located in Kern County
  • The new permits will exasperate health issues within the small town of Lost Hills in the area due to pollution 
  • The approval of these permits is an example of environmental racism, as the town is comprised of 97% Latinx individuals and almost 30% of residents have incomes below the poverty line
  • Juan Flores of the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment questions the Governors campaign promises:

“[Newsom] kept talking about how we needed to stay away from corporations and him not wanting to receive money for his campaign from big corporations like Chevron, Aera and Shell. He said ‘I don’t want to serve my term as Governor paying back those favors.’ And now he’s completely acting the opposite.”

  • The amended version of AB 345 was voted down on Aug. 5 Senate hearing and all of those who voted against it received money from companies or labor unions who had opposed the bill

The Climate Center’s Climate-Safe California Platform advocates for a formal California State commitment by 2022 to 80% below 1990 levels of greenhouse gas emissions and net-negative emissions by 2030. This bold target requires accelerating the phase-out of fossil fuel development, production, and use.


Read More: https://therealnews.com/columns/california-greenlights-orwellian-solar-powered-fracking-scheme

Committee For A Better Arvin / Comite para un Arvin mejor

Tired of wells that threaten residents’ health, a small California town takes on the oil industry


Highlights

  • In the Central Valley of California, exhaust from semi-trucks, oil and gas fumes, plus pesticides from the agricultural sector are trapped in the valley, creating mass pollution that creates severe health problems
    • Health effects include asthma, respiratory illnesses, preterm birth, low birth weight, and cancer 
  • Pollution caused by drilling sites disproportionately affect neighborhoods that are predominately occupied by Black, Indigenous, People of Color 
  • Though implementing setbacks or buffers that separate drilling sites from homes, schools, and hospitals effectively reduces health risks, California has no mandates or laws requiring these buffers
  • Oil industry giants such as the Western States Petroleum Association and Chevron have spent $9.9 million and $7.5 million on lobbying this legislative season
    • These same companies successfully advocated for streamlined approval of new oil projects with little environmental review
  • A community group in the Central Valley town of Arvin, named Committee for a Better Arvin, have taken on the oil industry in their community 
      • In 2014 a leaky pipeline had caused an air sampling from the inside of homes on a street in Arvin to have levels of toxic gas 13 times higher than deemed safe by the EPA 
      • With help from other smaller community groups plus big environmental groups, Committee for a Better Arvin sued for better regulations in their community
  • In Los Angeles County over 1.5 million people live within 2,500 feet of an operational oil well
  • AB 345 would create setbacks of 2,500ft, being the first mandate for buffers in the state
  • The bill would not stall oil production but would help frontline communities avoid toxic levels of pollution 

The Climate Center’s Climate-Safe California Platform advocates for a formal California State commitment by 2022 to 80% below 1990 levels of greenhouse gas emissions and net-negative emissions by 2030. This bold target requires accelerating the phase-out of fossil fuel development, production, and use.


Read More: https://insideclimatenews.org/news/02082020/california-big-oil-environmental-health

Let’s secure equitable access to resilient clean energy

The Climate Center’s Community Energy Resilience Policy Summit will address equitable approaches to clean energy resilience programs.  August 5, 2020, 9 AM – 12 PM.


As awareness of systemic poverty and racism grows, government policies and programs beyond police force budgets and protocols are also getting attention. The media is shining light on toxic oil and gas infrastructure – from freeways to oil refineries – that are often sited in lower-income communities, close to homes, schools, and hospitals and polluted air that leads to significantly lower life expectancy and higher rates of asthma, cancer, and other diseases

In California, programs designed to promote clean energy are more likely to benefit the rich than the poor who need them most. With the approaching power shut-offs that California is expecting this fire season, this inequity will continue to grow. While all communities are disrupted and suffer from power outages, lower-income households are likely to suffer most. This is because they have fewer resources to rely on in the event of an emergency, and less ability to absorb financial losses from outages. While wealthier Californians may buy back-up batteries or generators, less affluent residents can’t afford them. These same residents often suffer higher rates of respiratory illness due to pollution and are especially vulnerable when fossil backup generators are widely used during a power shut-off. And food security is an especially acute problem for low-income households that rely on school meal programs that are not accessible during power shut-offs because of the lack of refrigeration. 

A number of studies have highlighted inequities created by clean energy incentive programs. Perhaps the most striking findings come from Eric Fournier at UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, with a report showing how inequities in incentives for things like rooftop solar and electric vehicles place a larger burden of cost on the least affluent, and reward wealthier people. This is especially unfortunate given that lower-income communities are using less energy than wealthier communities and are less responsible for climate change.

While there’s a lot of work yet to be done, over the past decade Environmental Justice advocates have had remarkable successes in crafting new state policies and programs to provide more equity for lower-income communities. This trend and more will be discussed at The Climate Center’s Community Energy Resilience Policy Summit on August 5th. Panelists will outline how we can meet the challenges of enhancing clean energy resilience while avoiding exacerbating inequalities that these incentive programs often create.

The Summit will feature an opening keynote address by Carmen Ramirez, Mayor Pro Tem of Oxnard, followed by a panel providing an overview of what the state is doing now for clean energy resilience featuring Janea Scott, Vice-Chair of the California Energy Commission; Genevieve Shiroma, Commissioner of the California Public Utilities Commission; Eric Lamoureaux from the California Office of Emergency Services, and California Senator Henry Stern. 

A subsequent panel will provide a labor perspective, including Mark Kyle, former Chief of Staff of the California Federal of Labor, Jennifer Kropke, Director of Environmental and Workforce Engagement, IBEW, Local Union 11 & National Electrical Contractors Association Los Angeles County; and Vivian Price, researcher for the Labor Network for Sustainability and CSU Dominguez Hills Professor specializing in labor and climate change.

An Environmental Justice panel will be moderated by Janina Turner, a lead organizer in Sonoma County’s Sunrise Movement. Panelists include Mari Rose Taruc, movement organizer for environmental justice & climate solutions at Reclaim Our Power; Gabriela Orantes, a Just Recovery Fellow at the North Bay Organizing Project; and Nayamin Martinez, Executive Director of the Central California Environmental Justice Network.

The final panel, highlighting energy resilience programs of Community Choice agencies, will be moderated by Carolyn Glanton, Programs Manager at Sonoma Clean Power. Panelists include Sage Lang, Energy Program Coordinator/Analyst for Central Coast Community Energy; Stephanie Chen, Senior Policy Counsel at MCE; and JP Ross, Senior Director of Local Development, Electrification and Innovation for East Bay Community Energy. 

As California turns its attention to building energy resilience in the face of more power outages, policymakers must prioritize clean energy resilience in California’s lower-income communities. This will ensure that the Californians who are the least responsible for climate change are not suffering its worst consequences.

Register for the August 5th policy summit HERE.