Flex Your Power: Help SD350 Push for Climate Smart Legislation

The SanDiego350 community gathers at a previous training event. The most recent Legislative Training was held virtually due to current circumstances.

By: Jill O’Keeffe, SD350 Legislative Intern

SanDiego350 is working hard this summer on state legislation. We kicked off the effort to organize meetings with our legislators this past Sunday, June 28, at the Legislative Training where SD350 members met virtually to learn how to combat climate change with legislation and which bills are currently priorities. 

The SD350 community, members from several 350 groups around the state, and individuals from affiliated organizations gathered for the event. Attendees heard presentations on the bills that SD350 is advocating for this year, how bills become law in California, and advocacy best practices. 

Nine bills were highlighted within the presentation. Among the 2020 California climate bills are AB-345SB-54, and AB-1080. AB 345 would require a 2,500 foot buffer between new oil drilling sites and homes/schools/businesses. Even now, with oil demand down, the governor is approving new drilling sites in California. We need to protect working families from the toxic environment created by oil drills. California Climate bills AB 54 and AB 1080 are both two-year bills that would move California toward eliminating 75% of single-use plastics by the year 2030. The mandated recycling proposed by these bills would reduce greenhouse gases in both production of materials and degradation of said materials if put in landfills or littered rather than recycled.

The presentation included two social justice bills: Senate bills AB-1460 and AB-3121. These bills target racial equity by advocating for an ethnic studies requirement at all California State Universities and by creating a task force to develop a plan for reparations for African Americans, respectively. AB 1460 and AB 3121 will improve exposure to cultural and social justice history and begin to address the disparities of a shameful history. Racial and economic justice are indisputable and essential to climate justice. We, as advocates for climate justice, must strive for a world where people of color have a safe and healthy future on this planet.

SD350 will be urging legislators to think big and invest in systemic changes that will allow us to reduce carbon pollution and prioritize frontline communities and workers. There needs to be a change in our economy that focuses on justice, both racial and environmental, while expanding the scope of cleaner energy. Elected officials need to be reminded that even during this uncertain time, many people are still dedicated to bettering the future for this country. By joining these legislative trainings the SD350 community will help press legislators to invest now in a more sustainable future.

The training was a resounding success with many motivated community activists. The legislative training slide deck can be found here

What you can do: 

  • Contact local state legislators and ask them to support the important bills above. Call Senator Atkins (619-645-3133) and Ben Hueso (619-409-7690)and tell them to support AB 345, which protects residents near oil and gas extraction sites.
  • Contact Amanda at Amanda@sandiego350.org to learn how to get involved with advocating for these bills—via meetings, calling our legislators, attending trainings, and more!

California Reaches for 100% Renewable Energy

By Laura Sisk-Hackworth, SanDiego350

A bill vital to the fight against climate change is coming up for a vote in the coming weeks. SB 100, the California Clean Energy Act of 2018, would increase current renewable energy targets in California, setting the state on track to achieve 100% renewable and carbon-free electrical energy by 2045.

New Goals

Climate change is no longer a distant problem for later generations to deal with; it affects us today. The two largest California wildfires in recorded history have been in the past two years, ocean temperatures on our coast just hit a new record, and a global heatwave set record-high temperatures around the world this summer.

Given the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on an increasingly unstable climate, we must reduce our emissions as quickly as possible. SB 100 will help California do just that. California’s greenhouse gas emissions from generation of electricity would decrease under SB 100 – by increasing the Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS). The RPS is the percent of electricity sales sourced from renewable energy. The following chart shows the rise in RPS standards between current goals and the goals set in SB 100.

Year RPS Current Goals RPS SB 100 Goals
2024 40% 44%
2027 45% 52%
2030 50% 60%

Chart data derived from the Bill Text.

SB 100 also states that carbon-free and renewable energy supply 100% of electricity sales to California customers and state agencies by December of 2045. Crucially, it mandates that the use of 100% renewable and carbon-free energy not increase carbon emissions in the rest of the western grid. There’s little use decreasing our greenhouse gas emissions if we cause the emissions of other states to increase.

These new goals are completely attainable. Solar and wind costs are falling. Storage of renewable energy can be accomplished with increasingly cheaper batteries and other energy storage innovations. Alternative energy purchasing entities, like Community Choice Aggregators, utilize high levels of renewables and save residents money. In 2016, California’s renewable content already reached 34% of the total energy sold, which exceeds current targets. So these new goals are within reach.

Better Planning

SB 100 will drive a better plan for California’s energy. SB 100 would require the three major California agencies that regulate energy – the California Public Utilities Commission, the California Air Resources Board, and the California Energy Commission – to include the new RPS in any relevant planning decisions. It would also require that, as our energy system changes, these agencies maintain the reliability and integrity of the grid, keep prices affordable for residents, and prepare periodic reports on the progress towards the goals to keep them accountable to the public.

Take Action!

SB 100 will make California cleaner, increase its leadership in the climate fight, and lessen dependency on the fossil fuel industry. However, there are some obstacles in the way of the passing of this important bill. Governor Brown might try to hold it hostage to his pet bill, AB 813, which would give California’s control over its energy grid to western, coal-dominated states. SB 100 was introduced in January 2017 and has been stalled for a year and a half. The bill will be brought to a vote before August 31. We can’t allow SB 100 to be held back again! Find your legislator here and tell them to support SB 100.

About the Author

Laura Sisk-Hackworth is a SanDiego 350 volunteer who has worked in environmental and research science fields. Originally from the Inland Empire, she became concerned about climate change in 6th grade and has since then worked to educated herself and others on the challenges a changing climate will present.

SB 237 Threatens Community Choice Energy

SB 237, authored by California State Senator Hertzberg (D-18), threatens to increase the use of fossil fuels in California by undercutting Community Choice Energy (CCE) programs. The bill would allow businesses to circumvent CCE providers and buy electricity directly from suppliers. These suppliers would be subject to the state’s required minimum on the renewable content of the electricity – whereas CCEs consistently exceed those minimums. Therefore, this bill would reduce the use of renewables, hurt renewable energy job growth, and likely bankrupt all current CCEs. This bill would effectively end existing CCE programs and halt their future expansion throughout California.

credit pixabay

Community Choice Energy allows communities, rather than the utility companies, to purchase electricity. CCE programs offer different packages with varying renewable content, wherein residents can choose the pricing that works best for them. This increases renewable use and decreases fossil fuel emissions, at cheaper prices than the electricity provided by utilities. The California Community Choice Association estimates 2018 bill savings to be at 99 million.

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California Should Not Risk Its Clean Energy Future on Extreme Strategies

California will soon decide whether to combine its electric grid management with western states dependent on coal mining and coal-based electricity. This massive change has been proposed in the form of Assembly Bill 813 and before that in Assembly Bill 726. If passed, either of those bills would provide an avenue for coal-fired electricity to gain access to the California market. This would make the transition to renewable energy even harder.

Unifying California’s grid operations with other western states would be a huge risk. Thankfully better options are available.

[Read more…]