By: Lauren Navarro and Tim O’Connor
Every day thousands of Americans suffer from dirty air – costing the young and old their health, livelihood, and in many cases, their lives. As California is home to the top five most polluted cities in the country, we need action.
Thankfully, after many long hours of debate and negotiations at the state capitol, the California Legislature passed SB 350 (De León) last Friday. The California State Assembly passed the bill, with a 52-26 vote with bipartisan support before passing it on to the senate where it was approved in a concurrence vote. This bill increases California’s renewable energy mix to 50 percent and doubles the energy efficiency of existing buildings. Both of these provisions will serve to combat dirty air and fight climate change, while ushering in a new era for the state’s electricity system – one defined by a cleaner, more resilient, and dynamic electric grid. Read More
Keep reading for an overview or dig right into a new Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) policy brief on transportation fuel prices and the proposed 50 percent fossil fuel reduction for more details.
If you are a movie buff, you might remember Groundhog Day in which Bill Murray’s character had to relive the same day over and over again. Well, if you live in California, you probably feel like the existing gasoline and diesel system is on the same style of hamster wheel (i.e. roller coaster prices, Californians paying more than the rest of the country, and the petroleum industry spending the money you pay at the pump to lobby against any change).
As the 2015 legislative season comes to a close, a new script can be written for the state’s transportation fuel system in the form of SB 350 (De León). This effort would reduce petroleum use by 50 percent and in the process could reduce overall gas prices in California, reduce seasonal and annual volatility, and inject healthy competition into fuel markets that retain and create jobs across the state.
Understanding how SB 350 can help fuel consumers across California is actually pretty simple. Since the vast amount of California’s fuel is sold by a limited number of providers and drivers primarily rely on a single type of specialized fuel (CARB reformulated gasoline) – there is basically no competition in the market or choices available to consumers. Therefore, decisions by fuel providers to fix refineries or upgrade pipelines have impacts that directly affect the price Californians see at the pump, as well as how much profit or loss those same fuel providers experience. With significant profit margins and a massive fuel consumption rate, it’s no wonder the petroleum industry is trying to retain the status quo where they can single handedly inflate gas prices and profits. Read More
Every year at your annual checkup, the doctor measures your blood pressure, listens to your heart, and asks you to take deep breathes while moving around her stethoscope. Through these tests, your doctor is gaining insight into your overall physical health and monitoring for anything unusual. Typically, no news is good news when it comes to this annual physical. The same goes for California’s cap-and-trade carbon market, which has been up and running smoothly for the past two and a half years.
Instead of annual check-ups, California’s cap-and-trade program has quarterly auctions – the results of which tell us a lot about the health of the overall program and the progress the state has made towards its greenhouse gas reduction targets. Consistent and stable results from one auction to the next are a positive indication that the state has a functioning, well-oiled program. In other words, no news is good news.
Last Tuesday, the California Air Resources Board (CARB), in partnership with the environmental ministry of the Canadian Province of Quebec (MDDELCC), held one such quarterly auction for cap-and-trade carbon allowances, during which individuals and companies had the opportunity to bid for a total of approximately 83.9 million allowances. Today, CARB and MDDELCC released the results and they reveal yet another successful sale of allowances to the market. Read More
Cutting gas and diesel use in California has been a focus of Sacramento policy makers for years. After all, fuel combustion chokes our state with exhaust, releases a massive amount of global warming pollution, and undermines our economic security. And, at nearly 20 billion gallons of total use per year costing drivers over $50 billion a year – with much of the money flowing directly out of the state – it is no small challenge.
Despite many in-state efforts to cut gas and diesel use over the past decade, population and economic growth have erased many of the fuel use reductions achieved. This year, through dedication by Governor Brown and the legislature to fight climate change and make California stronger, there are promising solutions on the horizon. The solution making the biggest splash is SB 350 (De León) – a bill currently before the legislature – proposing (among other things) a statewide goal of 50 percent petroleum use reduction by the year 2030. With this ambitious goal, California can and will make real progress towards meeting its transportation needs using less oil for the years to come.
Understanding how California can meet a 50 percent petroleum use reduction goal by 2030, and why this goal is good for the state, hinges on four key concepts (explained in more detail here). Read More
California is deep into the dog days of summer, and pressure is mounting on the state’s electric grid to keep up with demand. Luckily, California’s legislature is working to bring more clean energy resources to the grid, diversifying how we power our homes and businesses while also improving the resiliency, efficiency, and carbon footprint of our energy system.
State lawmakers are directly addressing our dependence on polluting fossil fuels used to produce electricity. They are doing this by increasing California’s reliance on renewable energy, establishing energy efficiency resource standards, and providing certainty that California will meet its renewable energy and climate goals. The state’s current Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) has already achieved tremendous success in growing the market for renewables while bringing down associated costs. Building on this success, California’s legislature is currently undertaking four bills that will keep the state on a path to a reliable, affordable, and clean energy future – for the health of its citizens and economy. Read More
It’s summer time and many Americans are perfecting their grilling techniques and outdoor recipes. This week, EPA’s final Clean Power Plan rule is giving states a cupboard-full of ingredients to create signature recipes for climate action. The rule signals what the finished product must look like – the nation’s first limit on power plant pollution – but states can pick and choose elements that deliver the right combination of energy bill savings for customers, cleaner air, and clean energy investments. Fortunately, California and nine New England states (known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative or RGGI) have cooked up successful solutions in the past decade, implementing effective cap-and-trade programs that limit total pollution and demonstrate how strong climate action can stimulate economic growth.
California and RGGI have added a secret ingredient to their climate recipes, a catalyst that can not only drive further pollution reductions but can strengthen communities, create jobs, boost local economies, and improve health. Both programs are reinvesting dollars from the sale of carbon allowances (the currency of cap-and-trade that polluters must hold for every ton of pollution they emit) into further efforts to reduce climate pollution. Read More