We love electric vehicles (EVs) here in California and we want that love to spread. Why? It isn’t because of the cool factor – though, believe me, EVs like the Tesla are undoubtedly cool. Instead, it’s because these cars can offer significant benefits to the environment, electric grid, and economy.
California policymakers feel the love: in March 2012, Governor Brown signed an Executive Order that put an ambitious – and important – goal in place to provide the infrastructure for up to 1 million zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), which includes fuel cell powered vehicles along with plug-in hybrid and battery EVs, by 2020 and put 1.5 million ZEVs on the road by 2025.
Here are some of the potential benefits of electric vehicles:
- Reduce harmful pollution. Because EVs don’t produce any emissions from the tailpipe when they are drawing on energy from their battery – unlike traditional gasoline-powered vehicles – they can greatly reduce the amount of harmful pollution from which California suffers. Targeting tailpipe emissions, the largest contributor to dangerous emissions, will help the state meet its greenhouse gas reduction targets and reduce harmful pollutants that are causing elevated levels of smog.
- Integrate more renewable energy. By charging at times when renewable energy is abundant (i.e., during the day to take advantage of solar and late at night to soak up wind power), EVs can enable the grid to handle more clean energy resources while still maintaining reliability.
- Avoid increasing use of fossil fuel resources. Because solar power becomes unavailable when the sun goes down, the grid sees a steep increase in the use of fossil fuel-powered energy before sunrise and after sunset. If EVs charge during the day and then draw upon that stored energy when renewable energy is unavailable it will reduce the need for fossil-fueled generators to provide energy during these times of the day.
- Avoid costs to utilities and residents. Capitalizing on the ability of EVs to integrate more renewables onto the grid can offset the need for additional, expensive transmission and distribution infrastructure as energy needs increase over time. In addition, EVs present an attractive financial proposition – by reducing or eliminating the amount that drivers spend at the gas pump, those who purchase an EV can recover the upfront cost of the car in a matter of years.
Los Angeles City Council members Paul Koretz and Tom LaBonge at a press conference prior to the event
Los Angeles has a methane problem. Recent analysis by NASA and CalTech reveals that concentrations of methane in the Los Angeles basin are more than 60 percent higher than previously estimated. That’s a serious issue, because the invisible, heat-trapping gas packs a volatile climate change punch that is 84 times greater than carbon dioxide over the first 20 years after it is released.
The good news is that cutting methane pollution is a no-nonsense, can’t-lose proposition for fighting climate change. A dynamic discussion of solutions to the methane challenge brought nearly 200 people to a symposium in downtown Los Angeles last week.
The event was sponsored by EDF, in partnership with Climate Resolve and 11 other organizations representing diverse communities across California. Participants heard from climate change and methane experts from leading academic and research institutions about the science of methane pollution and what can be done to control it. The event drew officials from local, state, and federal agencies; utility representatives; business leaders; and a large array of concerned citizens.
NBC4 Los Angeles has a great story HERE.
Ask most people what the Beatles and California have in common and they might very well be at a loss. However, the answer is pretty simple: they are both unabashed trendsetters in the face of resistance – the former in their musical style and the latter in its clean energy policies.
Not content with setting a Renewable Portfolio Standard that ends at 2020, Governor Jerry Brown and state legislators are pushing for the Golden State to get 50 percent of its energy from renewable resources by 2030.
To meet this ambitious target, California must build a system that is largely based on renewable electricity, like wind and solar. This is not an easy task. The primary reason? Sunshine and wind are only available at certain times of the day and can be variable during those times.
Traditionally, managers of the electricity grid have relied upon dirty “peaker” power plants – usually fossil fuel-fired and only needed a couple of days a year – to balance the grid during periods of variability or when electricity demand exceeds supply. But, in a world where 50 percent of our energy comes from renewable sources as a means to achieving a clean energy economy, we can’t rely on these dirty peaker plants to balance the variability of wind and solar.
Luckily, technology is available today that can help fill the gap of these peaker plants – and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is starting to embrace it. Read More
Eric Holst, director of EDF's working lands program
Eric Holst, senior director of Environmental Defense Fund’s working lands program, has been reappointed to the California State Board of Food and Agriculture by Governor Jerry Brown.
Holst has served on the board – a fifteen-member state board appointed by the governor to represent a range of agricultural commodities, geographic regions and academic systems – since 2012. The board encourages public participation and input in all matters concerning agriculture and food policy within the state, from hunger and malnutrition to climate change and environmental markets. But the dominant focus over the last year has been drought and how to mitigate impacts on California agriculture.
A natural choice
Holst has been a leader in developing innovative partnerships with farmers, ranchers and foresters to improve environmental and economic performance on working lands for more than a decade, both in California and elsewhere across the country.
Since he arrived at EDF in 2006 (based in Sacramento), Holst has worked with landowners to develop conservation tools like habitat exchanges that benefit agriculture and the environment. He is an expert in developing strategies that improve livelihoods and environmental conditions on working forests, farms and ranches. Read More
El 15 de enero, el Fondo de Defensa Ambiental (EDF por sus siglas en inglés) publicó el segundo informe en una serie que explora cómo una de las políticas climáticas y de energía limpia de California – nuestro programa de topes y comercio de emisiones – está funcionando. Hoy, el EDF proporciona esta información en español – puede encontrar el Resumen de los expertos y nuestro comunicado de prensa. El informe ha generado gran interés, dada la creciente urgencia del problema y el aumento en el número de estados y regiones interesadas en iniciar políticas climáticas más enérgicas. ¿Qué queremos decir con que el programa de topes y comercio está “funcionando” y qué significa esto para los latinos en nuestro estado?
Así es cómo el EDF analizó si el programa está funcionando. Para empezar, el informe examina la información del objetivo crítico de reducir emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero dañinas. Estas son las emisiones que conducen al cambio climático, contaminan nuestro aire y empeoran los patrones de clima extremos. Pero también hay otros objetivos importantes. Uno es permitir que el estado mantenga un crecimiento económico sólido mientras se implementa un sistema de políticas que frene el cambio climático al limitar la contaminación del carbono. ¿Y cómo asegurar que el programa de topes y comercio de emisiones beneficie a todas las comunidades, incluso aquellas que ya sufren de los peores efectos del cambio climático?
Hay buenas noticias en todos los frentes. El informe concluye que después de dos años de funcionamiento, las emisiones limitadas por el programa están bajando. Al mismo tiempo, el progreso económico del estado también sigue marcha adelante, especialmente cuando se trata del crecimiento de empleos verdes. Read More
On January 15, Environmental Defense Fund released the second report in a series that explores how one of California’s signature climate and clean energy policies – our cap-and-trade program – is working. Today, EDF is making this information available in Spanish – you can find the Executive Summary here along with our press release. The report has generated a large amount of interest, given the increased urgency of the issue, and the growing number of states and regions looking at initiating more robust climate policies. So, what do we mean when we say the cap-and-trade program is “working,” and what does this mean for Latinos in the Golden State?
Here’s how EDF looked at whether the program is working. For starters, the report examines the data on the critical goal of reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions. These are the emissions that drive climate change, pollute our air, and exacerbate extreme weather patterns. But there are other important goals in the mix, too. One is allowing the state to maintain healthy economic growth while implementing a system of policies that curbs climate change by limiting carbon pollution. And what about making sure the cap-and-trade program benefits all communities, including those already suffering the worst effects of climate change?
Good news on all fronts. The report concludes that after two years of operation, emissions capped by the program are going down. At the same time, the state’s economic progress continues to march forward, especially when it comes to the growth of green jobs. Read More