California has more than 100,000 miles of often-aging natural gas transmission and distribution infrastructure. Methane, the primary component of natural gas, when vented or allowed to leak into the air is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide at contributing to climate change over a 20-year timespan. In addition, according to data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, more than one-third of today’s human-caused global warming comes from short-lived climate pollutants that include methane. Taken together, this data shows how critically important it is to minimize natural gas leaks quickly.
Senate Bill (SB) 1371, authored by California State Senator Mark Leno, aims to cut methane pollution from California’s gas transmission and distribution system by requiring the Public Utilities Commission to get more aggressive in requiring utilities to find and fix natural gas leaks. Yesterday, SB 1371 passed a critical vote in the State Assembly and is well on its way toward final passage later this summer.
What does SB 1371 do? Put simply, SB 1371 changes the way utilities respond to natural gas leaks. Read More
EPA’s Clean Power Plan, proposed today, is a roadmap for cutting dangerous pollution from power plants, and as with any map, there are many roads to follow. For this journey, states are in the driver’s seat and can steer themselves in the direction most beneficial to their people and to the state’s economy, as long as they show EPA they are staying on the map and ultimately reaching the final destination.
As usual, California got off to a head start, explored the territory, blazed a lot of new trails, and left a number of clues on how states can transition to a lower carbon future, and California’s successes are one proven, potential model for other states to follow. The state’s legacy of clean energy and energy efficiency progress is a big reason the White House and EPA could roll out the most significant national climate change action in U.S. history.
Way back in the mid-1970s, when Governor Jerry Brown did his first tour of duty, California pioneered what remains one of the most effective tools for cutting pollution and saving money: energy efficiency. The state’s efficiency standards, largely aimed at buildings and appliances, have saved Californians $74 billion and avoided the construction of more than 30 power plants. All those energy savings have translated into California residential electricity bills that are 25% lower than the national average. What’s more, California produces twice as much economic output per kilowatt hour of electricity usage as the national average.
While energy efficiency has done yeoman’s work pulling costs down, reducing the need for dirty energy, and supercharging the state’s clean energy economy, California has also brought bold approaches to cleaning up its power supply. The California Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) requires 33% of all electricity sold in California to come from renewable sources by 2020, the most aggressive of the 29 states with RPS measures on the books. Read More
For the first time since becoming a state in 1850, Latinos are the “new majority” in California, representing the largest ethnic demographic in the country’s most populous state. While Latinos account for 39 percent of California’s population, they are disproportionately exposed to dangerous air quality, health impacts, and adverse economic risk from dirty fuels.
In fact, the five most polluted cities in America are all in California – and all have majority Latino populations living in them. The main source of the pollution is the transportation sector, more specifically, the dirty fuels that power California’s transportation sector, responsible for nearly 70 percent of smog-forming gases and 40 percent of the state’s climate change pollution every year.
A new report by EDF and the America Lung Association gives us a stark look at the impact of dirty fuels and offers a path forward to build healthier and stronger communities with cleaner fuels via the state’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) and cap-and-trade (C&T) program. California Latinos, the population with the highest risk and exposure, should be paying close attention.
Here are five reasons why:
1. We Breathe the Dirtiest Air – Latinos account for nearly two-thirds of California residents in the top 10 percent most polluted ZIP Codes. This pollution can have serious health impacts on communities; roadway pollution alone causes 9,200 premature deaths per year in the state. However, the report outlines how the LCFS and C&T will prevent 600 heart attacks and 880 premature deaths by 2025, and provide savings of $8.3 billion in pollution-related health costs.
By Emily Reyna and Larissa Koehler
To mark the 44th Earth Day, EDF has released a new Green Roads map celebrating clean transportation, an economic sector that is helping the Earth by producing groundbreaking and sustainable technologies.
We Californians like to drive, but unfortunately our dependence on petroleum is harming our state, giving us the nation’s most polluted cities and the state’s biggest contributor to climate pollution (see the graph).
California greenhouse gas emissions by sector. Source: California Air Resources Board – May 2013 Investment Plan
Fortunately, state policies like the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) and the AB 32 cap-and-trade program are helping to reduce damaging greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, while bolstering California’s economy and allowing green companies to grow and thrive. In fact the number of clean transportation jobs in California tripled from 2001-2011. Read More
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In 2012 Latinos made up 1 in 10 voters and helped decide the Presidential election with record-setting voter margins. Last month in California, the most populous state in the nation, the Hispanic population surpassed that of non-Hispanic whites. The only other state to reach this benchmark is New Mexico, where the Latino population is almost 10% larger than that of non-Hispanic whites.
As the Latino population continues to grow across the country, so does its influence in key political arenas. In battleground states like Florida, Colorado, and Nevada, Latinos accounted for 17, 14, and 18 percent of voters in 2012, respectively, an increase from previous elections. The trend has reignited a lively discussion about the influence of the American Latino community, the “sleeping giant” of American politics.
There’s also a lesser-known political trend that is emerging among the country’s youngest and fastest-growing demographic: the demand among Latinos for action to address climate change. In a new national poll released last month by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Latino Decisions: Read More
Yesterday, my colleague Scott Hofmeister described an insurance pool that California has introduced to help communities integrate Property Assessed Clean Energy (“PACE”), a unique program that allows homeowners to finance money-saving clean energy retrofits through their property tax bill. These programs are popular in Sonoma, Orange, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Kern, and Fresno Counties, and we expect them to spread rapidly throughout the state.
Home Energy Renovation Opportunity (HERO), a residential PACE program run by Renovate America that has partnered with the Western Riverside Council of Governments, has funded over $180 million of clean energy retrofit projects in a little more than two years of operation. These investments are expected to save homeowners more than 2 billion kilowatt-hours, reduce consumers’ utility bills by almost $500 million and avoid more than 1.4 million metric tons of CO2 emissions, or the equivalent of removing almost 300,000 passenger vehicles from the road for a full year. And notably, the HERO program is entirely funded by private investors.
If the whole state of California embraced PACE at the same rate as Riverside County, residential PACE could generate up to $3.5 billion of private investment. That could create more than a few high quality local jobs.
Last week, about $100 million of the HERO financings were securitized and sold to investors by Deutsche Bank. The terms of the transactions indicate the incredible power of the PACE structure and potential of these clean energy investments. Despite all of the financings coming from a single county, 20 year maturities for the underlying loans, and an overcollateralization of only 3%, the rating agency provided a AA rating, the second highest possible, for these financial assets. For comparison, geographically diversified pools of unsecured 10-12 year energy efficiency loans may require overcollateralization of 20+% to achieve BBB ratings. Read More
By Jose Sigala, Field Manager for Moms Clean Air Force in Los Angeles and California's Central Valley
This week, Texas Governor Rick Perry made another visit to California in his continued crusade to entice businesses to relocate to the Lone Star State. Once again, Perry is making his stump-like pitch, highlighting his state’s low taxes and regulations and business-friendly climate, while touting the fact that no other state has created more jobs than Texas.
While that distinction is often disputed, Perry’s lack of effort to address climate change and poor air quality in his home state is not.
In fact, his neglect of major environmental concerns has helped Texas become one of the country’s worst polluters. The state ranks first in the nation for greenhouse gas emissions and worse yet- poor air quality is having a negative impact on children’s health. Kids age 0-4 with asthma are being admitted to the hospital up to eight times more than asthmatic adults in the state.
Moms across Texas and California urge Governor Perry to get his priorities straight and stop providing a pollution haven to corporations and prioritizing healthy profit margins over healthy communities. Read More
When it comes to protecting the environment and fighting climate change, California has always been a first mover.
Now the state is boldly acting to unleash a new market that saves energy, cuts pollution, and drastically increases clean energy investment for California’s residents.
Last week, California approved a $10 million reserve that will revive the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program for residential customers.
PACE allows customers to take advantage of energy saving upgrades to their home with no money down. Customers simply use a portion of their savings to pay off the investment over time through their property tax bill. Financing can be entirely provided by private lenders at no cost to taxpayers.
Since its first use at a San Francisco office building in 2012, PACE has been a resounding success in the commercial sector. In fact, the commercial markets have quickly taken to PACE and continue to set new deal-size records.
For months, EDF has been reporting on the exciting conversations happening at the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the Governor's office on the impressive progress California is making towards meeting its AB 32 climate protection goals and on what comes next for the state beyond 2020.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of continuing the dialogue as I testified in support of the AB 32 Scoping Plan Update before the California Assembly’s Natural Resources Committee. While some have recently debated the benefits of AB 32 and its cornerstone cap and trade program, most Californians recognize the benefits that the landmark law has delivered since its adoption in 2006, as well as the progress it promises with continued support from state leaders.
As the rest of the nation (and the world) eyes California, it is imperative that we remain focused on sustaining and strengthening the world’s most comprehensive climate change program, and ensuring we remain on the path to reaching our 2020 and future greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. Read More
On Tuesday, the Canadian province of Quebec held its second cap-and-trade allowance auction.
Today, the results are in – and they’re encouraging.
99% of the current vintage year allowances and 84% of the future vintage year allowances offered for sale in this auction were purchased at the floor price of $11.39 CAD. This is a significant increase from Quebec’s first action, which saw the sale of only 34% and 27% of current and future allowances, respectively.
These results reflect growing interest and demand in this burgeoning carbon market after it officially linked with California’s program at the beginning of 2014.
However, the results of Quebec’s auction are a bit different from the results we saw in California's sixth auction last month. Most notably, California’s auction saw higher demand for allowances, driving the settlement prices for both current and future allowances above those seen in Quebec’s auction.
So, why do these differences exist? And what do the Quebec auctions actually tell us? Read More