Category Archives: Politics

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| Comments 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.

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

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| Comments 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| Comments closed

California’s Legislative Session Ends With An Important Step Forward for AB 32 – The Stage is Now Set for a Carbon Price and Wise Investment of Permit Auction Proceeds

Like most legislative sessions in California’s recent history, the session that ended last Friday at midnight included a flurry of activity up until the final minute.  For California’s AB 32 though, Friday’s closing moments were not just exciting, they were groundbreaking for climate policy.

After nearly 2 years of deliberation – the Legislature charted a clear path toward full implementation of the state’s landmark cap-and-trade regulation by resolving a contentious debate over whether and how to wisely invest the proceeds of the regulation’s permit auction.  That debate, whether cap-and-trade should raise money in a greenhouse gas (GHG) permit auction process, was brought back to life when a letter from 56 prominent economists to Governor Brown urging him to not delay or scale back the auction was met with a similar letter from several state legislators taking the opposite position.  Friday’s legislative action appears to have resolved that issue – meaning all signs are go for launch of the state’s comprehensive climate change regulation in November.

The legislature passed two bills, AB 1532 and SB 535, establishing a framework for deciding how to distribute the proceeds from the state’s upcoming auction of GHG permits.  A core part of the approach, laid out in detail in AB 1532, is ensuring that all money raised in the auction be used to further the goals of the law (to reduce climate change pollution), and that spending decisions be made transparently, and in consultation with state agencies.  SB 535 stipulates that some of the money must be used to the benefit of disadvantaged communities who already share the large brunt of California’s degraded air quality.

Though any legislative proposal is potentially subject to veto by the governor, EDF expects and is actively urging Governor Brown to sign both AB 1532 and SB 535 into law as quickly as possible.

By passing a comprehensive bill package that sets out how expenditure decisions are developed and made, and also ensuring that those decisions be in compliance with established legal standards,  the legislature has put to rest the question over whether to move forward with the program as planned.  Now, with AB1532 and SB535, the legislature has decided how to move forward with the program – giving a clear signal that cap-and-trade is intended to proceed in November 2012.

More detail on AB 1532, SB 535 and use of AB 32 auction proceeds:

AB 1532, sponsored by Assembly Speaker Perez, establishes a 3-year investment plan process for investing auction proceeds in projects that reduce GHGs through activities like renewable energy and energy efficiency, advanced vehicles, water and natural resource conservation, and waste reduction. These investments are scheduled to start in the 2013-14 fiscal year.  The bill requires the investment plan be developed though a specified agency consultation process that includes public participation.

SB 535, sponsored by Senator De Leon, requires a minimum of 25% of CARB’s auction proceeds to be used in ways that benefit disadvantaged communities, either directly or indirectly.  It also requires a minimum of 10% of auction proceeds directly fund projects within those communities.

Use of AB 32 auction proceeds – Wise investment of cap-and-trade auction proceeds can be an integral part of achieving these AB 32 emission reduction goals. As detailed in our June 2012 report, Invest to Grow, targeted investment of AB 32 proceeds can bolster California’s green energy economy, creating jobs and providing a new wave of customers to California businesses operating in sectors providing clean energy solutions.  In addition, investment of auction proceeds into energy efficiency and clean energy will reduce air pollution, thereby improving health and air quality, fill gaps created by reduced state and federal funding, accelerate energy independence, and save businesses money by reducing energy demand.

Also posted in Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32| Comments closed
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