Selected category: Climate

Vast Aliso Canyon leak reveals need for increased natural gas oversight

rp_Tim-OConnor-Nov-2014-214x300-214x300.jpgMore than a hundred frightened local residents packed a room at the Porter Ranch Community School for three hours last week, looking for answers about the foul stench caused by a massive natural gas leak nearby. Southern California Gas Company’s Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility has been leaking vast amounts of noxious gas into the air for two weeks, with still no end in sight.

Environmental health risks abound

The familiar rotten-egg smell of mercaptan – which utilities add to the normally odorless gas – hangs in the air for at least a mile, a pungent reminder of the potential health, safety and environmental risks of the uncontained airborne spill. Natural gas is mostly methane; a powerful pollutant that contributes to smog formation and global climate change, packing 84 times the warming power of carbon dioxide in the first 20 years it is in the atmosphere. Aliso Canyon is the largest natural gas storage site in the Western U.S., operating under intense injection pressures and holding huge amounts of methane. Read More »

Also posted in Natural Gas| 1 Response

Cap and Trade under AB 32 – Now it’s an “Official Success”

By: Jonathan Camuzeaux and Tim O’Connor

iStock_000004415617SmallMany people have been following the AB 32 cap-and-trade program since it kicked off on January 1, 2013. After all, it’s the most comprehensive carbon market in the world; it has created billions in investments for pollution reduction in California communities and garnered intense international attention. Now, based on data showing the program has cut climate pollution during its first compliance period, the chair of the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has dubbed it “officially a success.”

Under California’s Mandatory Greenhouse Gas Reporting program, the largest polluters in the state across all sectors must report their emissions every year. This data is then collected and counted by CARB. Yesterday, the agency released the final tally of the 2014 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions covered by cap-and-trade, and with data, we get the final word on what happened during the program’s first compliance period (for years 2013 and 2014). Read More »

Also posted in Cap and trade, Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32, Jobs, Transportation| Tagged | Read 1 Response

California Makes Clean Energy History with Passage of SB 350

By: Lauren Navarro and Tim O’Connor

SolarPanels_iStock_000009912571_RFEvery 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 »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Demand Response, Energy, Energy Efficiency, General, Politics| Tagged , , | Comments are closed

Cutting 50 Percent from California’s Petroleum Consumption can Lower Fuel Prices and Price Volatility While Keeping the Economy Strong

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.

rp_Tim-OConnor-Nov-2014-214x300-214x300-214x300.jpgIf 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 »

Also posted in General, Low Carbon Fuel Standard, Transportation| Tagged , | Read 5 Responses

As the Saying Goes, No News is Good News

rp_KHK-picture-200x300.jpgEvery 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 »

Also posted in Cap and trade, Cap-and-trade auction results, Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32| Tagged | Comments are closed

Within Reach: California’s Road to 50 Percent Petroleum Use Reduction Explained in Four Easy Concepts

rp_Tim-OConnor-Nov-2014-214x300-214x300.jpgCutting 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 »

Also posted in General, Low Carbon Fuel Standard, Natural Gas, Politics, Transportation| Tagged , | Read 3 Responses
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    How California can leverage market-based environmental policies to revitalize its economy, protect its quality of life and retain a leading edge in global innovation.

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