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California Legislature makes little progress on the environment

by Mark Olalde, Desert Sun


Highlights

  • Many environmental bills were not passed during the 2020 legislative session in California
  • Mary Creasman, CEO of the California League of Conservation Voters, remarks that we are running out of time to make big environmental impacts:
  • “We only have until 2030 to prevent the most catastrophic impacts of the climate crisis and prepare for what’s happening, and right now there’s no clear vision or agenda from leadership in Sacramento on how to tackle this challenge…Big Oil and other industry interests have a hold on our state legislature and are putting our future at risk.”
  • A few environmental bills that made it past the legislature include AB793, a bill that will cut down on waste and increase the use of recycled materials, and AB841 which would help streamline the installation of electric vehicle charging stations
  • Bills that gain huge support from environmentalists but ultimately failed include AB 345, which would have created setbacks between oil drilling sites and homes, hospitals, parks, and other community spaces. Another set of bills, AB1080 and SB54, would have called for a 75% decrease in single-use plastics and mandated that products be recyclable or compostable by 2032

The Climate Center has been tracking energy and climate bills throughout the 2020 California legislative session. Endorse the Climate-Safe California Platform to implement scalable solutions that can reverse the climate crisis.


Read More: https://www.desertsun.com/story/news/environment/2020/09/02/california-legislature-makes-little-progress-environment/3447974001/

How the gas industry is waging war against climate action

by Emily Holden, The Guardian


Highlights

  • The gas industry has been orchestrating efforts to push against any climate policy that threatens their business models through coalition building, hiring lobbying firms, social media strategy, and op-eds
  • Though natural gas is touted as a safe resource, the extraction and transportation of the gas leaks methane, which is more powerful than carbon dioxide and is being emitted by the gas industry in large quantities
  • In Seattle, where the city council attempted to ban natural gas hookups in order to eliminate pollution, there was mass opposition from plumbers, realtors, and building owners who feared job losses and discontent with people who wanted gas in their homes
  • Charlie Spatz, a researcher at the Climate Investigations Center, says that the push back is due to the threat of the industries failing business:

“The gas utilities are facing an existential threat, and instead of approaching a decarbonizing economy as an opportunity to reinvent themselves, they’re digging their heels in and going back to the age-old tactics of [the fossil fuel industry]”

  • A group called Partnership for Energy Progress (PEP) which consists of western utilities, labor unions and businesses plans to spend nearly $3 million in efforts to convince consumers that natural gas is an important player in our green energy future
    • The American Public Gas Association is spending at least $127,000 on anti-electrification initiatives and $200,000 for media monitoring, engagement with reporters, letters to the editor, op-eds and social media efforts

While the gas industry has been touting how many jobs they support, jobs within the renewable sector are vastly outpacing those in the fossil fuel industry. The Climate Center works toward electrifying buildings and vehicles using 100% clean energy sources such as solar and wind to eliminate fossil fuel-based emissions and promote economic opportunities in the renewable energy industry.


Read More: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/aug/20/gas-industry-waging-war-against-climate-action

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

Day workers by Linnaea Mallette from publicdomainpictures.net

New report on climate impacts in SoCal makes urgent case for agricultural climate adaptation tools bill

by Brian Shobe, CalCAN


Highlights

  • A new study by the California Department of Food and Agriculture and Climate Science Alliance emphasizes the need for climate adaptation tools and training for farmers due to climate impacts
  • Assembly Bill 1071, the Agricultural Climate Adaptation Tools Bill, would provide the tools and training needed in order for farmers to prosper as the climate crisis threatens their livelihoods 
  • Farmers are lacking critical information and climate data, hindering their ability to adapt their production methods to the changing climate, jeopardizing the state’s future crops
  • Land that typically can grow an abundance of fruits like strawberries and avocadoes may lose this ability and result in a nearly 50% reduction of fertile land for these crops
  • Unless we combat the climate crisis and begin to draw down carbon emissions, our food production will be severely impacted
  • Chris Field and David Lobell, authors of the 2019 Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment Research Brief on Climate Adaptation and Agriculture notes that our crops will not grow on the same land if we don’t save our climate:

“…prime agricultural areas of California – as well as similar regions across the United States that are currently favorable to specific perennial crops – may become unfavorable during the lifespan of a single orchard or vineyard.”


Accelerating sequestration is critical to achieving drawdown greater than emissions by 2030 for a climate-safe future. We know today how to manage natural and agricultural lands for sequestration through proven carbon farming practices.


Read More: https://calclimateag.org/new-report-on-climate-impacts-in-socal-makes-urgent-case-for-agricultural-climate-adaptation-tools-bill/

The plan meant to unite Biden and Bernie voters on climate is here

by Emily Pontecorvo, Grist


Highlights

  • After Senator Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination, he joined forces with Former Vice President Joe Biden to create a climate task force
  • Other members of the task force included Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Sunrise Movement co-founder Varshini Prakash, and Catherine Flowers, the founder of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice, Secretary of State John Kerry, former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy, and former Biden policy advisor Kerry Duggan
  • The platform focuses on environmental justice, eliminating pollution, creating union jobs in clean energy, and other policies reminiscent of the Green New Deal
  • Varshini Prakash helped shape the platform by changing the target dates form 2050 to 2035 and introduced benchmarks such as electrifying school buses, retrofitting buildings, and increased energy efficiency within the first 5 years of Biden’s presidency
  • The task force also incorporated a “Tribal Needs Assessment” to support more than 500 tribes in the energy transition

Fossil fuel divestment and the transition to 100% clean energy is critical to achieving The Climate Center’s goals under the Climate-Safe California Platform.


Read More: https://grist.org/politics/the-biden-and-sanders-unity-task-force-on-climate-heres-their-new-plan-sunrise/

Congressional climate action plan

Congressional Climate Crisis Action Plan would decarbonize U.S., add $8 trillion in benefits by 2050

by Megan Mahajan, Forbes


Highlights

  • The U.S. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis has released their climate policy report titled Solving the Climate Crisis: The Congressional Action Plan for a Clean Energy Economy and a Healthy, Resilient and Just America 
  • Climate policy firm Energy Innovation modeled a subset of the Select Committee’s recommendations using a simulator and found it will hit net zero carbon dioxide emissions before 2050 and slash net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 88% from 2010 levels by 2050
  • This policy could prevent 62,000 premature deaths annually from pollution, while generating nearly $8 trillion in cumulative monetized health and climate benefits by 2050
  • Under this model, the electricity sector could reach 90% clean electricity by 2035 and 100% clean energy by 2040
  • Electrifying buildings with clean energy can deliver much-needed emissions reductions within that sector
  • 100% zero-emission vehicle sales for light-duty vehicles by 2035 and for heavy-duty vehicles by 2040 would help the transportation sector meet 2050 net-zero targets
  • More than 70% of voters support legislation targeting a 100% clean economy according to new polling

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 for a climate-safe future.


Read More: https://www.forbes.com/sites/energyinnovation/2020/06/30/congressional-climate-crisis-action-plan-would-decarbonize-us-add-8-trillion-in-benefits-by-2050/#56af4e331381

California is re-evaluating cap and trade

by Rachel Becker, CalMatters


Highlights

California has relied on its carbon cap and trade program to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the state. Many believe this policy is not strong enough to reduce emissions to 40% below 1990 levels and now the state must decide if it will reform the program.

  • California was the first in the United States to implement a cap and trade program and it is now one of the largest pollution markets in the world
  • In the past two years, the auctions of pollution permits gather $600 million per auction and the money is used for programs like EV rebates
  • Due to the unstable economy from the coronavirus pandemic, auction revenue is declining
  • Major polluters that purchase permits include oil refineries, power plants, transportation, and manufacturers
  • Polluters are not in favor of adjusting the cap and trade program, saying that it could increase the price of gas and consumer goods
  • Currently, the state is not on track to reach 2030 emissions targets and must reassess how to meet these goals

Using climate funding mechanisms, such as a carbon fee and dividend, we can effectively produce an additional $20 billion per year specifically for a climate-safe California while reinvesting back into our communities.


Read more: https://calmatters-org.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/calmatters.org/environment/2020/06/california-climate-strategy-cap-trade/amp/

Proposed California law would fast-track environmentally sustainable transit

by Carolyn Said, The San Francisco Chronicle 


Highlights

  • Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) will unveil SB288, the Sustainable Transportation COVID-19 Recovery Act, which would streamline alternative transportation infrastructure projects
  • The proposed bill would fast track sustainable transportation projects that would typically take months or years for approval due to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)
  • This bill would not provide any incentives or benefits to cars but would update transit stations, bus rapid transit lines, safer streets for biking and walking, repairs for bridge and transit storage, and new electric vehicle charging infrastructure
  • Labor and environmental groups are supportive of the bill, which as of now is receiving no opposition
  • Carl Guardino, CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, sees this bill as an opportunity to jump-start the economy post-pandemic and provide many other benefits to California:

“Fast-tracking some of California’s most sustainable transportation and complete streets projects would bring jobs, revive local economies, and result in improved safety, less pollution, reduced traffic and enhanced public health.” 


The Climate Center’s Climate-Safe California campaign calls for clean mobility solutions, including a phase-out of all gas-powered vehicles.


Read More: https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Proposed-California-law-would-fast-track-15339569.php

DNC climate group calls for larger federal investment on climate than Biden’s current plan

by Rachel Frazin, The Hill


Highlights

  • The Democratic National Committee Climate Council released a set of policy recommendations for a greater investment than Joe Biden’s climate plan
  • Joe Biden’s climate plan would spend $1.7 trillion over the next decade to address climate change, whereas the Climate Council plan endorses spending $10-16 trillion over the same period
  • Michelle Deatrick, leader of the Climate Council, emphasizes that this plan would be the boldest policy the party has adopted:

“These policies center environmental justice for frontline and vulnerable communities, urgent climate action, and worker empowerment… If adopted, these platform recommendations would be the most ambitious policies addressing the climate crisis ever adopted by the Democratic Party.”

  • Biden’s plan calls for reaching a 100% clean energy economy and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050  and halving the carbon footprints of buildings by 2035
  • The Climate Council calls for almost-zero emissions by 2040, banning crude oil exports, denying permits for new fossil fuel infrastructure, a permanent ban on fracking, and 100% renewable energy in electricity generation, buildings, and transportation by 2030

The Climate Center works toward electrifying buildings and vehicles using 100% clean energy sources such as solar and wind to eliminate fossil fuel-based emissions. 


Read more: https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/501147-dnc-climate-group-calls-for-larger-federal-investment-on-climate

Renewable_energy_park

States standing strong on clean energy commitments amid COVID-19 pandemic

By Sam Kozel, Greentech Media


Highlights

States are accelerating clean energy policies in efforts to secure economic stability during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • A majority of states have also put in place moratoriums on service disconnections and power shutoffs as many people face unemployment and may not be able to pay bills. This also avoids disruptions for those who are working and learning remotely since many offices and schools are closed 
  • Multiple states have made clean energy a priority to jumpstart their economy and are calling to advance clean energy policy:
    • In Arizona, Commissioner Lea Márquez Peterson (R) ​called upon the Arizona Public Utilities Commission​ to support a rulemaking change directing the state’s regulated utilities to generate 100% of their power from clean energy resources by 2050
    • In Connecticut, the state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority is ​extending certain deadlines for the state’s Renewable Energy Credits and Statewide Clean Energy Programs
    • Hawaii has reaffirmed its commitment to the state’s clean energy and climate goals, inviting input for new proposals and programs to support and expand job opportunities
    • New York passed the ​Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth & Community Benefit Act​ which will streamline siting for renewable energy projects across the state
    • California continues to advance its SB 100 clean energy goals of supplying 100 percent of retail electricity sales with renewable and zero-carbon resources by 2045

The Climate Center works toward electrifying buildings and vehicles using 100% clean energy sources such as solar and wind to eliminate fossil fuel-based emissions. 


Read more: https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/for-many-regulators-covid-19-pandemic-reaffirms-clean-energy-priorities