Secret Budget Negotiations Threaten The Ability of California to Protect Public Health & The Environment

By Tom Adams

It’s the untold story of California’s budget crisis: A handful of ideological Republicans are pushing proposals in secret budget negotiations with Governor Jerry Brown’s office that would enable an obscure administrative agency to delay, possibly indefinitely, safeguards that protect not only public health and the environment, but also rules that protect public safety.

Safeguards that make our buildings safe from fire and earthquakes. Regulations to improve safety at our nuclear power plants. Rules that protect the safety of the blood supply in hospitals. Common-sense laws that protect consumers from financial fraud. Even regulations to prevent discrimination. All of these could be delayed.

"Fracking": One Risk We Don’t Have to Take

By Elanor Starmer
Food and Water Watch

As Californians, we’ve had to come to terms with the fact that we’re at the whim of nature – and nature is not always very friendly. Each day when I cross the Bay Bridge on a bus, a tiny voice asks if this might be the day the Big One shakes up my commute. The scars of wildfires past mark the hills around Los Angeles, up the Central Coast, and throughout the North Country. The winters inevitably bring stories of skiers lost in avalanches somewhere in the Sierra.

With all these natural risks sitting uneasily on our conscience, it stands to reason that we’d do everything we could to avoid taking risks we don’t have to. Perhaps this is why California has always been a leader in risk mitigation – banning harmful substances that contaminate other states, taking action on global warming ahead of the curve. So why are we not taking the lead in banning the practice of fracking?

Mark Your Calendars: ‘Dump the Pump Day’ Just Around the Corner

By Alan Kandel

There are coined expressions that really resonate with me. One is “Dump the Pump Day.” Not exactly a household term, at least not yet. But, over time, particularly with gasoline prices on the rise, this indeed may change.

“The American Public Transportation Association (APTA), in partnership with the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), announced that the sixth annual National Dump the Pump Day will be held on Thursday, June 16,” according to the APTA. “This public awareness day encourages people to save money by parking the car and using public transportation instead.”

State and Federal Action Can Help Ease Californians’ Pain at the Pump

By Amanda Wallner
Sierra Club California

We should not let dips in gas prices fool us into thinking cheap gas is on the way; gasoline prices have gone up more than 25% since January 1.[1] With much attention given to the summer driving months ahead, two recently released reports analyze the cost to California consumers of rising oil prices and how state and national governments can help protect us from the grip of Big Oil.

The 2011 edition of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s “Fighting Oil Addiction: Ranking States’ Gasoline Price Vulnerability and Solutions for Change,” analyzes the vulnerability of Americans in different states to changing oil prices, as well as state and federal policies to help drivers[2]. Through April of this year, the average California driver is spending 7.19% of their income on gasoline – up 2.54% from last year.

If Prison Costs Rob Education, What Then?

By Tom Reifer

The dramatic drop in crime rates in San Diego County – with the exception of hate crimes and bank robberies – mirrored to varying extents around the country, cries out for explanation. It defies the premise that economic crisis usually leads to increased crime.

Here, though, citizens must be cautious. Consider an election debate last year between the top contenders for California attorney general. Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, who was to lose to his counterpart from San Francisco, Kamala Harris, asserted that historically low crime rates in California were due primarily to increased mass incarceration.

Cooley’s assertion may not be correct.

How Bad Ideas Keep Rebounding Into Public Discourse: The Rebound Effect and Its Refutation

By David Goldstein
Natural Resources Defense Council

Every few years, a new report emerges that tries to resurrect an old hypothesis: that energy efficiency policy somehow results in consumers using more energy instead of less. This hypothesis was introduced in the 19th Century by economist William Stanley Jevons, who argued that increases in the energy efficiency throughout a nation would lead to increases in coal consumption, rather than decreases.  

Recent articles have attempted to revive these claims, also known as “rebound effect” —restating that energy efficiency tends to encourage more energy use, not less, and that if a consumer’s immediate goal is to tackle climate change, then it seems risky to count on reaching it by improving efficiency. Assuming rebound effects eat up most of the energy savings, such claims then argue that efficiency cannot be a good policy to reduce energy consumption or combat climate change.  

It’s Time to Close California’s Nuclear Power Plants

By Norman Solomon

The facts all point to this “inconvenient truth” -- the time has come to shut down California’s two nuclear power plants as part of a swift transition to an energy policy focused on clean and green renewable sources and conservation.

The Diablo Canyon plant near San Luis Obispo and the San Onofre plant on the southern California coast are vulnerable to meltdowns from earthquakes and threaten both residents and the environment.

Reactor safety is just one of the concerns. Each nuclear power plant creates radioactive waste that will remain deadly for thousands of years. This is not the kind of legacy that we should leave for future generations.

A Golden Future For The Renewable State

By Peter Miller
Natural Resources Defense Council

While Congress stalls on America’s clean energy future, California is already making renewable energy the resource with which we’ll power our way to the future. Just last month, the California Legislature passed the 33 percent Renewable Portfolio Standard with broad bipartisan majorities. This legislation increases the share of renewable energy supplied by electricity providers to 33 percent by 2020. California lawmakers who supported the bill were no doubt listening carefully to their constituents who resoundingly defeated Proposition 23 last November, sending a strong signal that they want to move forward with a clean energy future now.   

California Leads Way on Green Energy

By Senator Joe Simitian

While a new Congress covers its ears and shuts its eyes to global warming, power-plant pollution and turmoil in the oil markets, California has seized the national leadership in clean and sustainable energy by committing itself to obtain 33 percent of its electricity from renewable resources by 2020.

On Tuesday, when Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 2X, a longstanding goal became law. It is essential to address climate change, reduce air pollution, diversify our sources of energy and stimulate the economy. And it is readily achievable.

Already many utilities are closing in on the previous renewable energy mandate of 20 percent. Billions of dollars are being invested and thousands of jobs are being created by renewable energy companies whose enthusiasm for doing business in our state will be multiplied by the clear market signal sent by SB 2X that California wants the kind of electricity they generate.

Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs Launches Effort to Boost Renewable Energy Jobs

By Tom Steyer
Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs

With turmoil and upheaval in the Middle East and with forces in Washington bent on turning back the energy clock, never has there been a more urgent need for California to provide leadership to the world on clean energy policies and technology -- especially as it relates to job creation and national security.

That’s why today we are announcing the rededication of Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs, the coalition that originally came together last year to fight and defeat Proposition 23 which sought to derail our future by indefinitely postponing California’s clean energy and clean air standards.