Category Archives: Politics

California Clean Energy Bill Could Open Door for Homeowners and Small Businesses

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Source: Flickr/constellationenergy

Governor Brown has the opportunity to make energy-saving upgrades possible for families and small business owners by signing Assembly Bill 1883 (Nancy Skinner- Berkeley). This bill would significantly lower the cost of Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), a tool which enables property owners to take advantage of energy efficiency and rooftop solar PV for their homes or buildings with no money down, allowing them to pay off the investment over time through their property tax bill.

AB 1883 would streamline the PACE process and drive down the fixed transactional costs associated with commercial projects. Lowering these transaction costs is especially important for small businesses because high transaction costs can reduce the economic viability of the smaller energy upgrades that small business typically need. AB 1883 also incorporates new options for financing rooftop solar PV through PACE, which will enable a greater number of homeowners and small businesses to qualify for cost-saving solar PV contracts. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Climate, Energy Efficiency, Smart Grid| 1 Response, comments now closed

As California’s Legislative Session Ends, Key Environmental Protections Begin

Source: Flickr/jjkbach

Source: Flickr/jjkbach

Anna Doty contributed to this post.

A quick look back at California’s 2014 legislative agenda, which closed in the early morning hours of August 30th, shows it certainly was one for the record books. California took up major efforts to cut climate pollution and portion out billions in new investments, modernize the electric grid, and take on other not-so-small issues such as phasing out plastic bags. This activity happened while California led the nation in a remarkable economic rebound, continued to deal with an epic drought, and combatted the worst air quality in the U.S.

Among the many environmental issues in the spotlight this year, climate change, air quality, clean energy, water, and waste lead the pack.

Implementing a climate protection framework worthy of acclaim

On climate, lawmakers turned a corner by affirming the state’s commitment to AB 32 and green-lighting a new era of pollution reducing investments from the state’s world-class cap-and-trade regulation. Keeping transportation fuels within cap and trade starting January 2015 remained a main focus, with lawmakers facing and rebuffing numerous attempts by regulated industries and other legislators to undermine and delay the state’s landmark program. Throughout the session, lawmakers remained strong, demonstrating a commitment to the state’s growing clean economy and the need to capture the huge savings in health and fuel costs AB 32 will provide. Read More »

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Lo que la creciente comunidad latina podría lograr para las políticas del cambio climático

rp_DSC_0012-Version-3-200x300.jpgTo read this post in English, click here.

En el 2012, los latinos fueron 1 de cada 10 votantes y ayudaron a decidir las elecciones presidenciales, estableciendo un margen récord de votantes.  El mes pasado en California, el estado más populoso de Estados Unidos, la población hispana sobrepasó la de blancos no hispanos.   El único otro estado a llegar a este punto es Nuevo México, cuya población hispana-latina es casi un diez por ciento mayor que la de blancos no hispanos.

Así como la población latina continúa a crecer en todo el país, así crece su influencia en áreas de política claves.  En aquellos estados que son campos de batalla de las elecciones, como Florida, Colorado y Nevada, los latinos representaron el 17, 14 y 18 por ciento de votantes en el 2012, respectivamente, lo que refleja un aumento con relación a elecciones anteriores.  La tendencia ha reavivado una animada discusión sobre la influencia de la comunidad latina estadounidense, el “gigante dormido” en la política del país.

También hay una tendencia política menos reconocida que está surgiendo entre los grupos más jóvenes y de más rápido crecimiento: la demanda entre latinos para actuar con el fin de hacerle frente al cambio climático.  Según una nueva encuesta nacional publicada el mes pasado por Natural Resources Defense Council y Latino Decisions: Read More »

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Historic Agreement Demonstrates Broad Commitment to Build Clean Energy Economy

With the stroke of a pen, North American efforts to combat climate change and promote clean energy reached a new level today.

I was lucky enough to witness the historic event, as Governor Jerry Brown joined the leaders of Oregon, Washington State and the Canadian province of British Columbia, to sign an agreement that formally aligns climate and clean energy policies in the four jurisdictions.

This signing by these “Fab Four” of the Pacific Coast Collaborative makes sense given all they have in common: they’re geographically connected, share infrastructure, and their combined regional economy accounts for a $2.8 trillion GDP, making it the world’s fifth largest economy.

Beyond the symbolic nature of today’s announcement, the event signals California’s far-reaching influence on energy and climate policy development.

Once labeled the “go it alone” state, California is now succeeding with its “lead by example” approach.

What has driven this success? Most recently, the Golden State established the world’s most comprehensive cap-and-trade program, a proven and sensible environmental and economic approach to limiting greenhouse gas emissions. Once considered a “grand experiment,” its early success has helped to establish a strong, viable market and spur interest from around the world.

Today was no exception, as business, labor and environmental leaders from all four jurisdictions joined the signing, signifying a strong regional commitment to putting a price on carbon, using market mechanisms to spur a clean economy and reduce pollution on a regional scale.

The agreement is also further proof that strong climate and clean energy policies are tied to economic benefits, creating a large market for innovators and low-carbon businesses in the region. California is on the brink of linking its cap-and-trade program with Quebec’s; making the two states’ carbon allowances interchangeable and showing growing carbon market momentum.

Today’s event is a beacon of hope for national and global action to fight climate change.  While the four parties in this agreement are in different stages in putting a price on carbon, their combined commitment is a positive sign and further impetus for regional and international collaboration. The vision of these four leaders – along with California’s proven record of success – makes me very optimistic that we are on the right path.

Also posted in Cap and trade, Clean Energy, Climate, Linkage| Comments closed

Environment: California didn't do so badly this year

(This post was written for and first appeared in the San Jose Mercury News)

By Lauren Faber and Ann Notthoff 

Despite some particularly unexplainable losses if you care about protecting the environment, the California Legislature made progress in 2013. The range of bills on the governor's desk awaiting his signature confirms that California remains the stalwart energy and climate leader in the country.

This legislative session was a turning point: More than half of the members of the Assembly were freshmen, Democrats enjoyed a two-thirds supermajority in both houses and the state budget swung back into the black. This new era has ushered in fresh opportunities for clean energy investment, sustainable transportation and consumer protections from dirty, expensive energy production and consumption.

While "A Bad Year in Sacramento for Environmental Measures" (San Jose Mercury News Page 1A, Sept. 15) identified missed environmental opportunities, there were significant achievements this year along with efforts that will be taken up in January during the second half of the two-year legislative season.

Newly passed legislation, AB 217 (Bradford), will expand renewable energy, extending the state's low-income solar programs to ensure the benefits of solar reach all Californians. Further, a "Green Tariff" program was created through SB 43 (Wolk) to allow customers of the state's largest utilities to purchase up to 100 percent renewable electricity. These efforts wean the state off dirty fossil fuels, benefiting public health, and give customers choices.

The state also doubled down on its commitment to sustainable transportation with the passing of AB 8 (Perea), an expansive effort to strengthen California's alternative fuel and clean vehicles programs; SB 811 (Lara), a bill to protect disadvantaged communities and mitigate the impact of the Highway 710 expansion; and SB 359 (Corbett), which helps clean the air by providing incentives to drive plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles.

In addition, California became the first state to adopt a major consumer protection bill aimed directly at deterring gas price manipulation and establishing recommendations for combating volatile gas prices with SB 448 (Leno). This oversight creates a more transparent market that helps alternative, lower-carbon fuels thrive and reduces emissions from transportation, the sector contributing most to climate change in California.

Big oil spent a lot of money in Sacramento this year but still lost some fights and may be left feeling it needs to review its playbook. The Legislature passed a suite of bills to regulate the oil industry. In addition to SB 448, lawmakers moved legislation to ensure a skilled workforce is processing oil at our refineries in SB 54 (Hancock), and make sure taxpayers aren't left holding the bag for oil and gas drilling accidents with SB 665 (Wolk).

All told, key legislation passed in 2013 will account for nearly $1.3 billion of clean energy investment over the next five years, with an additional $3 billion mandated by voters and the Public Utilities Commission.

However, policies are only as good as the leader who signs them into law.

Gov. Jerry Brown has made climate change a focal point of his administration. We are counting on him to uphold that commitment and make these new bills the law of the land. Doing so will continue California's legacy of innovative policies that move our environment and economy forward and improve public health.

While we have a long way to go, most newly elected members are off to a positive start, standing up for consumers, health and the environment — a powerful message coming from a Legislature that will define the next generation of California's environmental leadership.

Lauren Faber is the West Coast political director for the Environmental Defense Fun, and Ann Notthoff is the California advocacy director of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Also posted in Clean Energy, Climate, Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32| Comments closed

California Climate and Energy: Top 10 Blogs of 2012

2012 was an exciting year for California’s climate change and energy leadership. Our “Top 10 Blogs of 2012” recap some of the year’s highlights and illustrate how EDF is engaged in groundbreaking work in the Golden State every day. Whether it was helping to pave the way for the opening of North America’s largest carbon market in California, or helping design the first commercial On-Bill Repayment program, EDF was at the center of the most important environmental issues facing California in 2012.

In 2013, we will continue to tout both the economic and environmental benefits of California’s landmark environmental programs. California is our nation’s most important laboratory for meaningful action on climate change and clean energy. We must ensure that California serves as a model for the nation proving that good environmental policy can create jobs, spur our economy, and improve our overall quality of life.  We look forward to a productive and prosperous 2013 and will continue to share with you the stories that impact California and shape our nation.

       1. On-Bill Repayment Bill Introduced In California (Published: December 7, 2012)

California Senator Kevin de León introduced a bill, SB 37, which would create the first On-Bill Repayment (OBR) program entirely financed by private capital. OBR allows property owners to finance energy efficiency and renewable generation upgrades and repay the obligations through their utility bills. Read more…

       2. California Cap-and-Trade Auction Success (Published: November 19, 2012)

The results of California’s first ever auction for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions allowances are public, marking the start of a new era for stimulating innovative solutions to combat climate change. Coincidentally, earlier today new atmospheric data was released by NOAA showing that 2012 is on pace to be the warmest year, eclipsing the mark set only two years ago. Read more…

       3. California’s record gas prices shows AB 32 will help both your wallet and your health (Published: October 10, 2012)

Fuel prices in California hit historic highs this week, an unexpected price spike that has put the state’s dependence on oil and natural gas into sharp focus. Like many of the state’s former fuel price shocks caused by demonstrable events (i.e. foreign and domestic supply disruptions), oil companies are once again saying that refinery problems and pipeline issues were the root cause. However, most reports on the current price swing aren’t pinpointing the true reason – drivers en masse are too reliant on the current mix of gas and diesel, an energy source that pollutes our environment every time it is used. Read more…

       4. Latino Support Surges for the Environment (Published: October 4, 2012)

California lawmakers take notice: Latino voters want a strong economy AND a clean environment, two things they believe are not mutually exclusive. Read more…

       5. What does history say about the costs and benefits of environmental policies? (Published: September 20, 2012)

With just three months to go before California launches North America's first economy- wide cap on global warming pollution, many businesses large and small all over the state are quietly and effectively creating a clean economy that will get a further shot in the arm when California puts a price on carbon in January. Unfortunately, albeit predictably, opponents of this landmark effort choose to overlook the likely benefits and instead spread questionable information about the assumed costs. Read more…

       6. Californians see global warming as a threat, and support action to abate (Published: August 2, 2012)

Decision makers at every level across California should take notice of today’s affirmation that the public supports California’s efforts to respond to the causes of climate change. Read more…

       7. Invest to Grow: EDF’s newest report highlights the opportunities created by the strategic investments behind California’s landmark emissions reduction program (Published: July 13, 2012)

Over the past 20 years, the unprecedented growth and resiliency of California’s clean and efficient economy has continued throughout economic recessions and budget crises – even while many other sectors of the economy have shrunk. This growth has created a statewide infrastructure of companies providing the products and services that are at the heart of the transition towards a lower carbon economy envisioned by California’s landmark climate law. Read more…

       8. A Dynamic Approach To California Energy Use (Published: July 5, 2012)

Californians are poised for a more functional, data-driven model for setting the prices people pay for electricity. The new model will make the massive differences in costs of providing electricity during the course of a typical day more evident to us as energy users, thereby inspiring more efficient use of electricity resources. Read more…

       9. Outpouring of Support for California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (Published: June 25, 2012)

California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) has received an impressive outpouring of support from a diverse range of “friend of the court” briefs as the case challenging the regulation makes its way through the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Back in April, the LCFS won a preliminary victory when the 9th Circuit held that California could continue to enforce the regulation while the court considers the case. On June 8, the state and other appellants, including EDF, submitted the first full brief arguing the merits of the case. A week later, groups filed seven different briefs in support of the LCFS, asserting a wide range of interests in the case. Read more…

       10. Getting ‘Smart’ About Your Energy Use Just Got Easier (Published: January 20, 2012)

On Wednesday, I attended a presentation of the Green Button at EMC2, hosted by Silicon Valley Leadership Group, OSIsoft and SolarCity, and moderated by Aneesh Chopra, U.S. Chief Tech Officer and Advisor to the President. Read more…

 

Also posted in Clean Energy, Climate, General, Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32, Smart Grid, Transportation| Comments closed

California policy makers must hear variety of indigenous voices on protecting tropical forests

This week, some U.S. NGOs are bringing a group of indigenous people from South America to talk with California policy makers about their opposition to REDD+, the idea that countries, states and communities that reduce carbon emissions from tropical deforestation should be eligible for compensation through carbon markets and public funds.

It’s good for policy makers to hear this perspective, but it’s critically important for these policy makers to hear the great diversity of indigenous voices on the REDD+ issue.

Having worked with indigenous peoples and minorities in the Amazon for over 20 years, in particular on helping indigenous peoples win the struggle for their lands, I’m glad that EDF actively supports indigenous and minority participation in international policy processes, whether or not given organizations or individuals agree with us.

Some NGOs have argued that REDD+ threatens indigenous land rights, that governments and NGOs are inducing indigenous communities to sign carbon contracts, that REDD+ will only benefit rich industrial polluters.

Earlier this year in the Amazon state of Acre, the Catholic Church missionary/indigenous rights organization, CIMI, made these arguments in an affidavit it sent to the Federal Prosecutors’ office, asking for the prosecutor to take legal action against the state System of Incentives for Environmental Services (SISA), under which Acre is formulating its REDD+ program.

Most of Acre’s indigenous peoples, however, do not agree with CIMI, as evidenced by this letter that leaders of the indigenous movement in the state sent to CIMI in response.

Indigenous leaders were dismayed to hear CIMI claimed that they were being manipulated into accepting carbon projects by the government and international NGOs, and pointed out that no one was forcing the indigenous organizations to do anything.

To the contrary, they noted that they are in the process of informing themselves and their communities so they can decide whether they want to participate in REDD+.  The letter makes an interesting contrast between the pros and cons:

“Both those in favor of and those against REDD must be serious and ethical in conveying correct information and establishing continued dialogue. Those in favor of REDD should not promote it as something that can resolve all the problems of our communities; those against it should not terrorize our peoples using western capitalism as a backdrop and creating a climate of distrust and fear based in suppositions and untruths.”

Beyond the borders of Acre, the Coordination of the Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon basin (COICA) comprises the Amazon regional indigenous organizations of the nine Amazon nations. COICA has participated in the international climate negotiations since 2008.

The indigenous peoples’ caucus (including COICA) made this statement to the UNFCCC conference in Durban this year, covering a wide variety of issues including REDD+.

There are some 385 indigenous peoples, speaking about 300 languages, living in 2,344 territories that cover about 2.1 million km2 – an area four times the size of California – in the Amazon, as well as some 71 isolated groups. These peoples have maintained their distinct cultures and identities for thousands of years in the face of enormous, often violent, pressures – their difference unites them. Even the level of awareness of the idea of REDD+ varies enormously amongst them.

The NGOs and indigenous peoples visiting California this week offer one set of perspectives on REDD+, but their views should be considered in the context of the spectrum of indigenous organizations currently engaged on these issues, many of whom view REDD+ quite differently.

Also posted in Climate, Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32, Offsets| 1 Response, comments now closed

California’s record gas prices shows AB 32 will help both your wallet and your health

Fuel prices in California hit historic highs this week, an unexpected price spike that has put the state’s dependence on oil and natural gas into sharp focus.  Like many of the state’s former fuel price shocks caused by demonstrable events (i.e. foreign and domestic supply disruptions), oil companies are once again saying that refinery problems and pipeline issues were the root cause.  However, most reports on the current price swing aren’t pinpointing the true reason – drivers en masse are too reliant on the current mix of gas and diesel, an energy source that pollutes our environment every time it is used.

The true cause of California’s fuel price spikes must be seen for what it is –an unhealthy dependence on fossil fuel (primarily imported), and lack of diversity in our transportation system.  Furthermore, since over 50 percent of the oil used in the state is obtained from foreign sources, California consumers aren’t exactly benefitting the state’s economy as we send billions of dollars out-of-state but release combustion byproducts here – polluting our air and water.  Over time, the impact of buying and burning all of that gas is going to get even worse: an increasing population and declining in-state oil production means we are going to import, and burn, more.

Growing fuel use and declining in-state production puts California on a path to spend between $112 and $182 billion per year by 2020 on imported energy, which translates to roughly $8,000 to $13,000 per household.   Even worse, the American Lung Association, using EPA data, has included 9 cities and 16 counties in California on their list of most polluted areas in the country; more fuel burning will only exacerbate these problems, worsening air pollution and sickening people – leading to poorer public health, higher healthcare costs, and more missed work and school days.

California’s fuel and energy policies , if implemented as planned, have the ability to protect the economy and help lessen air pollution and human health impacts.  By setting a cap on emissions and requiring a diversification of energy sources away from an over-reliance on fossil fuels, AB 32 will result in decreased dependence on foreign imports and will make California consumers less vulnerable to price shocks.  Low carbon solutions such as advanced biofuels, ultra-efficient vehicles, and improved community planning are all part of the AB 32 solutions package, and all are aimed at breaking the grip that traditional fossil fuel companies have on our economy. Add to that the obvious environmental and health benefits from reducing fossil fuel use, and it is clear that the California Air Resources Board’s vision for AB 32 policies is the right choice for California.

For more information on how AB 32 saves California’s money during fuel price swings, see two articles co-authored by EDF economist Jamie Fine — Shockproofing Society: How California’s Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) Reduces the Economic Pain of Energy Price Shocks and The Upside Hedge Value of California’s Global Warming Policy Given Uncertain Future Oil Prices.

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Latino Support Surges for the Environment

California lawmakers take notice: Latino voters want a strong economy AND a clean environment, two things they believe are not mutually exclusive.

A new poll released by the California League of Conservation Voters finds that an overwhelming 90 percent of Latino voters believe that the state can “protect the environment and create jobs at the same time.”  This number mirrors national trends among Latino voters, including a recent national poll by the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and the Sierra Club, which found that 90 percent of surveyed voters believe that protecting land and water resources is “critical to the economy.”

Here are three major takeaways:

  1.  Latinos are the fastest growing electoral body in the country, and in California they account for 38 percent of the state’s population and 25 percent of the electorate in 2010. There are over 2 million eligible but unregistered Latino voters in the state and almost 2.4 million legal permanent residents who are eligible to become citizens and vote.  With the most recent redistricting process in California, 19 out of 53 congressional districts now have a Latino majority, the largest number of such districts in the country.  In the state legislature, nearly 40 percent of both the Assembly and State Senate are Latino-majority districts.
  2. Latinos can see the direct impact of pollution in their daily lives: 85 percent of those polled have “serious concerns” about toxic pollution affecting the health and wellbeing of their families.  Their concerns are well-founded – California is home to the top 5 most polluted cities in the country according to the American Lung Association, and Latinos make up more than half of all residents in these polluted cities, with populations in the Central Valley reaching a whopping 60 percent.
  3. Latinos want clean energy, and they are willing to pay extra for it.  Latino voters show overwhelming support (83 percent) for the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), one of the main components of the state’s landmark legislation AB 32, which requires one third of the state’s electricity to come from renewable energy sources by 2020 – compare this to 51 percent of Latino voters in the state who oppose drilling off the coast, or a meager 44 percent who favor coal as an energy source.  Most surprisingly, support for the RPS remains strong even when voters are told their energy rates may increase.

On this last point, I’ve written before that the clean economy is an economic opportunity for U.S. Latinos, and the NCLR/Sierra poll confirms that Latinos would rather work in the clean energy sector, with 83 percent calling coal plants and oil refineries “a thing of the past.”  National polls also indicate that Latino voters largely reject the notion that clean energy and environmental protections are “job-killers” or bad for the economy.

While jobs and the economy are still the number one issue on Latino voter’s minds, it is clear that they believe economic growth at the expense of public health or environmental protection is a no-go for California.

 

Also posted in Clean Energy, Climate, Engaging Latinos| 1 Response, comments now closed

The Clean Economy is an Opportunity for US Latinos

(Excerpt from original post on Fox News Latino on 9/13/12)

Economy and jobs are the top issue on Latino voters' minds, according to the 2012 “Latino Decisions Poll,” a theme that will be featured prominently in this week’s Hispanic Heritage events in DC.

It's all the more reason to discuss a powerful engine of opportunity in this country called the clean “green” economy – it is here, it is real, and it is one of the few bright spots in an economy desperate for a comeback.

In 2010, I wrote “Green Can Grow Latino Business,” arguing that the clean economy will create new demand for goods and services, new supply chains and niche markets, and opportunities to create new business models and reinvent old ones.

This is a boon for all would-be entrepreneurs, including Latinos — the nation’s fastest growing demographic. Further, new business creates jobs, and jobs create more demand for goods and services, and the virtuous cycle continues.

The results?  Despite the persistence of a national recession, the clean energy sector grew at double the rate of national economy from 2003-2010, attracting record-level investment and venture capital last year, and boasting twice the export value of traditional sectors.  In total, “Green Goods and Services” as defined by the U.S. Department of Labor accounts for 3.1 million U.S. jobs, with more than one-third of those jobs in the struggling construction and manufacturing industries.

In my home state of California, where Latinos make up 38 percent of the state’s population, the numbers are even more striking:

  • California leads the country in clean economy jobs and solar power generation, and wind power has doubled since 2002.
  • The state accounts for 13 percent of all “environmental goods” exported by the U.S., the majority in renewable or efficiency products.
  • From 2002 to 2011 the state produced 9 percent of worldwide clean energy patents,
  • Since 2006, $9 billion in venture capital has flowed to California clean technology firms.

Jobs in the clean economy are diverse, across a wide range of education-level and skills.  On average, clean economy jobs offer a higher median wage and career advancement opportunities, and almost half of all jobs in the clean economy don’t require a college degree, according to the Brookings Institution.

An analysis of clean energy jobs in Southern California by Philip Romero, the former Dean of CSU Los Angeles College of Business and Economics, finds that “workers command wages with a 50-to-100 percent premium over the average job,” and estimates that the overall clean economy will grow “by at least 60-to-100 percent”  by the late 2030’s.

If we want to compare this to fossil fuels, we find that the overall clean economy employs “more than ten times as many workers in the LA region as does petroleum and coal products production,” according to Romero — and analysis of the oil industry’s own job estimates finds that more than half of all the state’s “direct jobs” are gasoline station attendants making minimum wage.

If we want to have a serious discussion about economic opportunity – for all communities – we need look no further than the clean “green” economy.

It is an economic engine that is creating new demand, new investments, well-paid jobs, and new business opportunities, all in spite of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

And, by the way, it is creating economic growth without harming the planet and poisoning communities with toxic pollution.  If we want America to continue being the land of opportunity, then let green grow!

 

Jorge Madrid is a Fellow with the Environmental Defense Fund. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of Voces Verdes, and a former Graduate Fellow with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, and the California Latino Caucus Institute.  He can be reached at jmadrid@edf.org 

See original post at: http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/politics/2012/09/13/jorge-madrid-clean-economy-is-opportunity-for-us-latinos/#ixzz26SmlEJOy

 

Also posted in Clean Energy, Climate, Engaging Latinos, Jobs| 1 Response, comments now closed