Richmond councilman: residents should demand clean air

By Eduardo Martinez | The San Francisco Chronicle

As host to one of the biggest petroleum refineries in California, Richmond needs its residents to remain vigilant. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District is considering new refinery regulations that would require Chevron to disclose and measure the toxic emissions of its Richmond refinery and reduce them if they rise above stipulated limits, as has often occurred in the past. The air district held public workshops last week in Richmond, Martinez, Benicia and San Francisco. I urge concerned citizens to submit additional comments to the district before its March 27 deadline.

We need citizens to stand up because Big Oil doesn’t give up. The oil industry is spending tens of millions of dollars to derail our state’s landmark climate-change law, AB32. And it’s using some of the same sneaky tactics that Chevron deployed against me when I ran for Richmond City Council. Telling the truth is too risky, I guess: The vast majority of Californians want clean air and a livable climate.

Chevron, the oil giant that ranks by assets as the 18th biggest company in the worldaccording to Forbes, spent some $3 million on advertising against me and other candidates when we ran in November’s election.

Despite being outspent by 20 to 1, my team and I fought back with a grassroots campaign that showed how people power still can triumph over big money. And I can tell you, standing up to a bully feels good, especially when you win.

The industry’s battle plan was revealed in a slide deck prepared by its lobbying arm, the Western States Petroleum Association, which was leaked to Bloomberg Businessweek. Instead of engaging in open public debate about clean energy and climate progress, the association has created and funded front groups that appear to consist of ordinary people — who just happen to share the industry’s point of view.

Oil companies also invoked the bogeyman of higher taxes. “Stop the Hidden Gas Tax” proclaimed countless billboards, TV and radio ads for weeks before Jan. 1, 2015, the day transportation fuels came under the AB32 emissions cap.

There was no hidden tax. Nor has the industry’s broader claim — that AB32 would weaken California’s economy and drive away businesses — proved true. In fact, California’s economy has grown since AB32 began. We have the largest advanced energy industry in the United States, employing more than 430,000 workers, and the Golden State’s manufacturing sector leads the nation in total output. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that California vaulted over Texas as the state with the largest job growth during the past year. All this growth — and our per capita carbon emissions have dropped 17 percent since 1990.

To be sure, this increased prosperity still hasn’t reached all Californians. But the solution is not to gut our clean air laws; it is to accelerate our development of renewable energy sources and improved energy efficiency — labor-intensive activities that employ more people than drilling for oil and gas.

We need to keep shining a light on the activities of opponents to clean energy.

As a resident and public official in Richmond, I care about petroleum use for another reason as well. In 2012, an explosion at Chevron’s Richmond refinery led some 15,000 people to seek hospital treatment. The refinery’s typical emissions also take a terrible toll, as I witnessed during my 18 years as an elementary school teacher. So many students were afflicted with asthma that our school founded an Asthma Club to help kids, teachers and parents cope. That should not be.

Californians deserve clean air, a stable climate and public policy that prioritizes those goals. We should strengthen, not weaken, AB32. Tell the air district that.

Eduardo Martinez serves on the Richmond City Council.

 

Big Oil’s Big Money

The oil industry more than doubled its spending on lobbying and campaigning in California last year, as the Jan. 1, 2015 date approached for gasoline to be included in the state’s cap-and-trade program. It’s part of a long trend of attempting to influence California policy that makes Big Oil the biggest lobbyists in the Golden State. lobbying infographic

OIL INDUSTRY & FRIENDS CLAIMING CATASTROPHE … again

The oil industry has a long history of decrying regulations that protect public health and the environment. Our new factsheet takes a look back.

The oil industry has a long history of decrying regulations that protect public health and the environment. Our new factsheet takes a look back.

The oil industry and its allies have a long history of decrying regulations that protect public health and the environment. They holler about revenue losses, soaring energy costs, sky-high gas prices, an uncertain business climate, mass exodus of industry, basically THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT… which never seems to happen.

See our factsheet here.

We heard all throughout last year – that on January 1, 2015, gas prices would soar.

• “Starting January 1, 2015, Californians will pay 16 to 76 cents more per gallon…”

• “This new mandate will increase fuel costs by 4% to 19%, or 16 to 76 cents per gallon at the pump.”

• “California will lose more than 18,000 jobs and $2.9 billion of economic output next year alone…”

• “We can’t afford a new double-digit gas tax…”

• “This new cost at the pump could push California over the fiscal cliff again and … back into recession.”

What’s really happening with gas prices?

• “The increase was so small and happened so fast that almost no one noticed,” reported the San Francisco Chronicle.

• “California did see a little bump … but it’s being washed out by the larger trends in the oil market,”i concluded James Bushnell, UC Davis economist.

• There was no price spike, not like in 2012, when the Chevron Richmond refinery fire caused prices to jump 30 cents per gallon almost overnight.

• By reducing demand for oil and providing drivers with more fuel choices, households will reduce their transportation fuel bills by $380 a year, growing to $850 in savings by 2020 and ballooning to over $2,000 annually by 2030.ii

• By 2020, consumers will pay 30% less in overall fuel expenses because policies like AB32 move us towards cleaner and more efficient transportation.

Why all the hype? Because claiming catastrophe is just what industry does.

• Take another California policy example. Some industry groups said a Clean Cars Program would serve to ban SUVs, reduce vehicle safety and performance and limit choice.iii

• “Californians are not going to get any health benefits, emissions benefits, etc., from these regulations.” iv

What really happened?

• The national 54.5-mpg fuel economy standard was based on California’s Clean Cars Program.

• In 2014, California surpassed 100,000 plug-in car sales, setting a new world record.v

• Tesla Motors has resurrected auto manufacturing in California.

• Analysis has found that California drivers will save 1.6 billion gallons of gasoline and $4 billion at the pump by 2016, while reducing 14 million tons of pollution.

And the automakers? Today, they support clean cars and clean fuels.

• “For greater energy security, automakers must continue producing advanced diesels, hybrids and vehicles powered by biofuels, electricity and hydrogen.”

• “Automakers support a national program for fuel economy and carbon dioxide that increases fuel economy,” says the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.vi

• “Automakers support a widely available range of energy sources including biofuels, clean diesel, electricity and hydrogen to reduce the carbon footprint of transportation fuels.”vii

We heard similar threats from industry about California’s cap and trade program.

• “… [Cap and trade] would raise energy costs, harm the economy and impact California’s competitiveness.”viii

• “These policies will create a large but hidden tax on families and will add new burdens to the fragile state economy.”ix

• “Small business will get hit from all sides. Consumers will have less money…”x

• “This poses great risks to manufacturers and other firms.”xi

What’s really happening to California’s economy?

• California’s economy is thriving and per capita carbon emissions have dropped 17% since1990.xii

• Per capita annual income in California was estimated to have increased by $1,700 in 2014, to $50,338.xiii

• The California economy expanded in 2014 by almost every measure and is set to overtake Brazil as the world’s seventh-largest economy, with even stronger growth anticipated from 2015–2017.xiv

• “California is growing faster than the U.S. economy, which is a bright spot in the global economic situation.” Prof. Sung Won Sohn, California State University Channel Islands.xv

• Unemployment is set to continue its decline through 2018, while the GSP is set to rise 3.4% over 2015 and accelerate to 3.8% in 2016.xvi

• $1.6 billion flowed in to the state’s clean tech sector in 2013.xvii

• California is the epicenter of the U.S. clean tech marketxviii and has the largest advanced energy industry in the United States, employing over 430,000 workers.xix

• California manufacturing leads the nation, with the highest total manufacturing output of any state.xx The manufacturing sector has grown in the past year and is projected to continue to do so in 2015–2016. Prior to 2010, before AB32 began having positive economic impacts, the sector was in a state of decline for a decade.xxi

• California leads U.S. states in agriculture, technology and manufacturing revenue growth, according to Bloomberg economic data.

• The LCFS alone can contribute at least 9,100 new jobs in an industry with a strong future, and potentially many more if the state attracts more clean fuel production facilities and technology providers.xxii

• Right now, more than $872 million in proceeds from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund are flowing back to California communities into programs designed to benefit all Californians, like affordable housing, sustainable communities, natural resources protections, low-carbon transit operations and energy efficiency. In 2016, it’s predicted that $1 billion in proceeds will be available for investment.xxiii

• By law, a minimum of 25% of proceeds go towards projects that benefit disadvantaged communities, enhancing equity in the state.

i David Baker, Fears of a Hidden Gas Tax Vastly Overblown, http://www.sfgate.com/business/article/Fears-of-a-hidden-gas-tax-were-vastly-6021148.php

ii S. Mui, NRDC blog. http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/smui/why_gov_browns_goal_of_cutting.html

iii California Clean Cars Campaign, Automakers Cry Wolf Again.

http://calcleancars.org/archives/factsheets/CryingWolf.pdf

iv ibid

v http://www.marketwatch.com/story/san-diego-achieves-milestone-with-10000-electric-vehicles-on-the-road-2014-09-09

vi http://www.autoalliance.org/auto-issues

vii ibid

viii 13 things to know about California’s cap-and-trade program, Dana Hull, San Jose Mercury News, February 22, 2013, http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_22092533/13-things-know-about-california-cap-trade-program

ix Jack Stewart, President, California Manufacturers and Technology Association

x John Kabateck, Executive Director, National Federation of Independent Business/California 2012

xi Jack Stewart, President, California Manufacturers and Technology Association

xii 2014 Green Innovation Index, Next 10.

http://greeninnovationindex.org/sites/greeninnovationindex.radicaldesigns.org/files/2014-Green-Innovation-Index.pdf

xiii Michael B. Marois and Shin Pei, California Zooms Past Russia, Italy and Soon Brazil in Economic Might, Bloomberg, Jan 15, 2015. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2015-01-16/brown-s-california-overtakes-brazil-with-companies-leading-world.html

xivibid

xv ibid

xvi California economy continues steady improvement, Sep 11, 2014, University of the Pacific. http://www.pacific.edu/About-Pacific/Newsroom/2014/September-2014/California-and-Metro-Forecast–September-2014.html

xvii Next 10, 2014 California Green Innovation Index, http://next10.org/policy-clean-tech-innovation-accelerate-consumer-demand-spur-additional-economic-growth

xviii 2013 US Clean Tech Leadership Index

xix AEE Institute, https://www.aee.net/articles/california-has-largest-advanced-energy-industry-in-u-s-with-over-430-000-workers-according-to-first-ever-state-employment-survey

xx 2014 State Manufacturing Data Table, National Association of Manufacturers.

http://www.nam.org/Data-and-Reports/State-Manufacturing-Data/2014-State-Manufacturing-Data/2014-State-Manufacturing-Data-Table/

xxi Michael B. Marois and Shin Pei, California Zooms Past Russia, Italy and Soon Brazil in Economic Might, Bloomberg, Jan 15, 2015. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2015-01-16/brown-s-california-overtakes-brazil-with-companies-leading-world.html

xxii ICF International, California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard: Compliance Outlook & Economic Impacts, April 2014. http://www.caletc.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/ICF-Report-Final-2.pdf

xxiii http://www.transformca.org/transform-blog-post/green-light-for-investments-housing-and-transportation

Leaked: The Oil Lobby’s Conspiracy to Kill Off California’s Climate Law

You remember Fillmore. He’s the resident hippie of Radiator Springs in the Pixar blockbuster Cars. Much to the chagrin of his neighbor, Sarge the Army Jeep, Fillmore greets each new day with Jimi Hendrix’s Woodstock rendition of A Star Spangled Banner—“respect the classics, man”—and is quick with a conspiracy theory about why biofuels never stood a chance at America’s gas pumps. Perfectly voiced by the late, great George Carlin, Fillmore has a slight paranoiac edge, as if his intake of marijuana may exceed what’s medically indicated.

Well, as they say, it’s not paranoia if they really are out to delay, rewrite, or kill off a meaningful effort to reduce the build-up of carbon in the Earth’s atmosphere. APowerpoint (MSFT) deck now being circulated by climate activists—a copy of which was sent to Bloomberg Businessweek—suggests that there is a conspiracy. Or, if you prefer, a highly coordinated, multistate coalition that does not want California to succeed at moving off fossil fuels because that might set a nasty precedent for everyone else.

Created by the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), one of the most powerful oil and gas lobbies in the U.S., the slides and talking points comes from a Nov. 11 presentation to the Washington Research Council. The Powerpoint deck details a plan to throttle AB 32 (also known as the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006) and steps to thwart low carbon fuel standards (known as LCFS) in California, Oregon, and Washington State. Northwest Public Radio appears to have been the first to confirm the authenticity of the deck, which Bloomberg Businessweek did as well, with WSPA spokesman Tupper Hull.

Specifically, the deck from a presentation by WSPA President Catherine Reheis-Boyd lays out the construction of what environmentalists contend is an elaborate “astroturf campaign.” Groups with names such as Oregon Climate Change Campaign, Washington Consumers for Sound Fuel Policy, and AB 32 Implementation Group are made to look and sound like grassroots citizen-activists while promoting oil industry priorities and actually working against the implementation of AB 32.

The deck also reveals how WSPA seized on a line from a California Air Resources Board memo that the cap-and-trade program for gas and diesel that goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2015, may affect gas prices in order to launch an ad campaign warning of a “hidden” gas tax that devious Sacramento pols are sneaking through.

“The environmental community is used to sky-is-falling analysis from fossil fuel interests in response to clean energy initiatives, so that part isn’t surprising,” says Tim O’Connor, a senior attorney at the Environmental Defense Fund, to whom I sent the deck for comment. “But it’s eye-opening to see the lengths [the WSPA] has gone to push back rather than move forward. I don’t think anybody knew how cross-jurisdictional, cross-border, and extensive their investment is in creating a false consumer backlash against [climate legislation].”

In California, O’Connor points out, “we have 70 percent voter approval on clean energy alternatives, so it’s offensive and atrocious they’re using these supposed everyday citizens—who are really paid advertisers—to change the public discourse.”

Reheis-Boyd’s Powerpoint deck, entitled “WSPA Priority Issues,” starts by announcing that these are the “the best of times.” Crude oil production in the U.S. is higher than it has been since 1997, with imports subsequently reduced to a 20-year low, according to the American Petroleum Institute. The next six slides describe why these are also “the worst of times” and include images of demonstrators protesting the Keystone XL oil pipeline, demanding government action on climate change, and pictures of professor-cum-activist Bill McKibben and billionaire Tom Steyer, with the latter quoted as saying he wants to “destroy these people”—i.e., people like the members of WSPA.

Then there’s a slide with all the different groups that WSPA has funded to make it seem as if there’s a broad group in three states opposing a series of initiatives to reduce carbon pollution from fossil fuels. The most clever of these is the “Stop the Hidden Gas Tax!” campaign. Who, after all, wants that?

“Let me be clear,” says Hull, the WSPA spokesman. “We did not oppose AB 32 when it passed. We believe it’s good to have the reduction of greenhouse gases as a goal. We support that goal.” In the years since, he says, “hundreds of pages of regulations have been added to what had been a page-and-a-half document, and we do object to many of the additions.” What’s more, Hull says, “we have a legitimate concern over what will happen when the cap-and-trade program goes into effect for gas and diesel.”

Hull describes AB 32 as “a stool with three legs”: cap and trade for stationary power sources (already in effect); low carbon fuel standards (which he characterizes as too aggressive); and the cap-and-trade program that goes live on Jan 1. “Lots of people—drivers, small business owners—don’t realize that they may be impacted by this.” Hull insists that WSPA has not created any opposition groups but has funded those that share its sincere concerns.

Like the rest of us, corporations determine from time to time that their concerns are being overlooked or misunderstood by lawmakers, and they may wish to improve things by correcting the record, getting their stories told. Hull is surely right that how cap and trade will affect everyday motorists deserves greater study. But the reason environmental activists are excitedly swapping the WSPA deck via e-mail is because it is not about correcting the record. The deck clearly describes a strategy to confuse people about an important law that has already passed and to prevent the enforcement of regulations that represent an effort—however imperfect—to reduce the risk of catastrophic effects from global warming.

Is it a coincidence that this strategy, backed by millions of dollars, promotes a consumer backlash against climate policy in three of the states nearest to having cleaner alternatives to liquid fossil fuels at most gas stations? Go ask Fillmore.

Unmasked: The Oil Industry Campaign to Undermine California’s Clean Energy Future

  • A variety of climate and clean energy measures that are part of California’s landmark Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32) are reducing California’s oil dependence, transportation costs, and pollution-related health bills. But with the petroleum fuels sector scheduled to begin paying for its portion of climate pollution in January 2015, oil companies have intensified their campaign to undermine the clean energy policies that will reduce their market share.
  • NRDC has identified at least eight front groups appearing to be grassroots organizations speaking for consumers or broad coalitions, but they have strong ties to the oil industry. Oil companies such as Chevron, Shell, ExxonMobil, BP and ConocoPhillips are working against California’s clean energy policies, often through the industry’s trade association, the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA).
  • The oil companies’ campaign to maintain their profits and continue California’s dependence on petroleum-based fuels has been supported by more than $70 million of oil money spent on lobbying in California since 2009.
  • Reversing or delaying the scheduled inclusion of transportation fuels — which account for nearly 40 percent of California’s climate pollution — under the state’s emissions cap, as the oil industry and its front groups advocate, would undermine clean energy progress, keeping Californians more dependent on oil and more vulnerable to roller-coaster gas prices.

California’s Climate Policies Reduce Dependence on Oil

California’s Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) has put the state on a pathway to reduce harmful carbon pollution to 1990 levels by 2020 and beyond. By 2030, AB 32’s clean energy policies will enable California to:

  • Save more than $2,000 per household on gasoline each year due to more efficient cars that go farther on a gallon, greater fuel competition, cheaper fuels like clean electricity, and better access to transit;
  • Reduce carbon pollution by 150 million tons every year compared with business as usual, which is equal to halving the emissions of all cars and trucks on the road in California;
  • Eliminate 14 billion miles driven annually, thanks to more sustainable communities with walkable neighborhoods and expanded public transit; and
  • Save well over $8 billion on health care costs due to fewer asthma attacks, cardiac hospitalizations, and premature deaths from poor air quality.

The Oil Industry’s (Renewed) Campaign Against AB 32

California’s transportation fuel providers are slated in January 2015 to join the state’s other major polluting industries (such as power plants and cement factories) already under the cap-and-trade emissions limits. Including the emissions from transportation fuels like gasoline under the statewide cap has been in the works for almost a decade.

The cap-and-trade system places an upper limit on greenhouse gas emissions (cap) and requires polluters to either reduce their pollution or buy or trade a diminishing number of pollution allowances (trade). The proceeds from selling pollution allowances to large emitters fund projects that further reduce emissions in California, and at least one-quarter of the funds must benefit disadvantaged communities, which are disproportionately affected by climate pollution.

Rather than investing in cleaner sources of energy, more efficient production and refining processes, and less-polluting products that would reduce climate pollution and improve air quality for California’s residents, the oil industry has invested in a front group-led marketing campaign to avoid being held accountable for its pollution. Since 2009, the oil companies have spent more than $70 million on lobbying in the state.

A Better Future Is Possible

Despite the oil industry’s opposition, Californians and their elected leaders are engaged in building a better future, with clean and affordable solutions that reduce dependence on oil. AB 32 invests the proceeds from pollution permit sales in programs that will cut carbon pollution and reduce Californians’ fuel bills, with an emphasis on projects that deliver benefits to the state’s most disadvantaged communities. Californians should see the oil industry’s latest campaign attacking AB 32 for what it is: a thinly veiled attempt to maintain their share of the market and avoid responsibility for the fuel sector’s climate pollution.

Big Oil’s ‘Grass-Roots’ Groups in California

pol_climate37__01__970-630x420When oil companies mounted a public campaign in 2010 to roll back California’s nation-leading greenhouse gas restrictions, the effort backfired in a big way: 62 percent of the state’s voters rejected Proposition 23, which would have suspended California’s goal of slashing carbon emissions by the end of the decade. It was a major setback for the industry and strengthened the resolve of environmentalists and politicians to discourage the use of fossil fuels. On Jan. 1, 2015, the state’s cap-and-trade system is scheduled to expand to include gasoline, diesel, and other fuels used for transportation, which the California Air Resources Board estimates are responsible for 36 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

Once again the oil industry is suiting up. The restrictions will cripple the economy and cost jobs, lobbyists say. But instead of making a direct plea to the public for support to delay or repeal the changes, oil companies are quietly working to make it look like Californians are spontaneously rising up in protest against the climate standards. In recent months, groups have popped up that appear to be grass-roots organizations started by ordinary people opposed to the rules. In fact, they’re paid for by the oil industry.

The most active group, the two-month-old California Drivers Alliance, describes itself on its website as a “movement of motorists, small businesses, fuel providers, and consumers.” It’s been running a slew of online ads, radio spots, and bold-faced ads in newspapers across the state, urging readers to “Stop the Hidden Gas Tax.” Mirroring an oil industry claim, the ad says the regulations will “increase the cost of gas between 16¢ and 76¢ per gallon.” One online video features a Hispanic mother of two who says she works for a nonprofit that helps immigrants and can’t afford to drive her car to work. “Many Latino families who only make minimum wage, we just honestly can’t afford for gas prices to go higher,” she says.

Asked where the alliance gets its money, spokesman Jerry Azevedo says the group’s funding comes from the Western States Petroleum Association, whose members include BP (BP)Chevron (CVX)ExxonMobil (XOM), and Shell Oil (RDSA:LN). He wouldn’t say how much money the alliance had received. WSPA didn’t reply to numerous messages seeking comment.

Another group, Fed Up at the Pump, says it’s a “grass-roots coalition of consumers, businesses, and advocates who are concerned about the negative impacts that a hidden, regressive gas fee will have on California.” It started a letter-writing campaign this year targeting Democratic Governor Jerry Brown. Like the alliance, it stresses the prospect of gas price hikes using the same numbers and wording—that Californians starting next year will pay up to 76¢ more per gallon. “Governor Brown,” concludes a prewritten letter people can send through the group’s website, “you must find a way to address climate change without hurting those of us already struggling to get by.”

In a recent poll, 76 percent of Californians supported the greenhouse rules …

Fed Up lists retail, manufacturing, farming, and trucking groups among its four dozen members. The four-month-old organization is the creation of a petroleum trade group called the California Independent Oil Marketers Association, which is made up of small and midsize oil distributors and retailers. Jay McKeeman, a spokesman for the California Independent Oil Marketers Association and for Fed Up, says the group’s goal is to pressure Brown to delay the January rules. “Let’s have a public debate about this with full participation of fuel consumers,” he says.

The groups echo the oil industry’s contention that the regulations amount to a “hidden gas tax”—though there’s not much hidden about it. In 2010 a California Air Resources Board report publicly estimated that cap-and-trade rules could raise gas prices 4 percent to 19 percent by 2020. The oil groups applied those percentages to today’s gas price of $4 per gallon to arrive at the ubiquitous 16¢-to-76¢ figure.

Severin Borenstein, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, says those numbers don’t add up. A study he conducted in August puts the price increase at 9¢ to 10¢ per gallon, the difference between driving a car that gets 30 miles per gallon instead of 31. “There’s a lot of hyperbole coming out of the oil industry,” he says. Azevedo of the California Drivers Alliance sticks by his group’s numbers and says, “We’d welcome a new analysis from the Air Resources Board.”

The climate rules, signed in 2006 by Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, require the state to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The industry’s stealthy campaign to reverse or slow the regulations appears to be a long shot at best. A bill that would have delayed the January rules died in the state senate in August in the face of public support for the regulations.

… but that number dropped to 39 percent if it meant higher gas prices

The oil-backed groups have shrewdly focused their efforts where support for the rules is softest: low- and middle-income Californians who worry about high gas prices. Overall the climate policies remain very popular—76 percent of Californians agree that oil should be included under the new greenhouse gas rules, according to a July poll from the Public Policy Institute of California, a nonprofit think tank. However, when those people were asked whether they were in favor of the rules if it meant higher gas prices, public support tumbled to 39 percent. For the oil industry and its proxies to have a chance at getting what they want, says Mark Baldassare, president of the policy institute, “this has to be about working families.”

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-09-04/californias-carbon-laws-oil-companies-fund-grass-roots-revolt

AB32 helps California move forward on curbing emissions

By CONRAD ANKER | August 29, 2014

When climbers team up to scale a big peak, they share the goal of making it to the summit. Success rests on training, detailed planning, clear communication, using the best available technologies and a bit of luck with the weather. If all line up, one might make the summit.

These values are at the core of The North Face, the company I have worked with for the past 31 years.

The challenges California faces with climate are our metaphorical summit. We have the foundation of planning and communication to achieve cleaner air without compromising economic growth. What we are lacking is a tool that will help us. One set of tools is AB 32, California’s pioneering clean-energy and climate law.

The North Face is among the many California companies representing various sectors of the economy that have sent representatives to Sacramento to voice support for AB 32. Our message to legislators: AB 32 is working. Let’s keep pushing forward, and stay on schedule.

That means no delay in bringing transportation fuels under the statewide emissions cap – an idea now being considered. Exempting the oil industry from taking responsibility for its emissions risks the economic and environmental progress our state has been enjoying.

AB 32 is delivering cleaner energy, healthier air and less pollution – all while our economy continues to grow. It’s helping California maintain leadership in the fast-growing clean-energy sector: A conservative accounting of our state’s clean economy found that jobs in this sector grew 20 percent from 2002 to 2012.

California policies, including the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, are driving more alternative fuels into the marketplace, boosting efficiency, spurring innovation and investment, diversifying our energy portfolio and building our resilience to gas price spikes. It’s no accident California retailers sold 523 million fewer gallons of gasoline in 2012 than they did in 2009, even as the economy grew. Those hundreds of millions of gallons of gasoline represent millions of dollars Californians have been able to spend at places other than the gas pump.

The transportation sector is California’s biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions. Any legislative effort that suggests the oil industry can delay curbing its carbon pollution, while the state’s other industries work to cut emissions, doesn’t make sense. Doing so would shift the oil industry’s share of responsibility for cleaning up its product to other sectors of the economy and to consumers.

Air pollution and climate change are serious problems, and voters support action, including cleaner fuels. In fact, 81 percent of Californians – including 69 percent of California conservatives – support requiring oil companies to produce transportation fuels with lower emissions.

We know that when it comes to protecting the community you serve, it is your duty to comply. That’s true even if there’s a cost. Profitable, well-run companies from the building sector to apparel to health care have to follow the rules and produce a safe product or service.

We’re doing our part, and our business is seeing economic benefits. The North Face headquarters building is LEED Platinum certified and produces 116 percent of its electricity needs through solar panels and wind turbines. Rather than paying an electric bill, we get money back from our utility for the extra renewable energy we generate. The facility also includes eight electric vehicle charging stations, and employees who drive electric vehicles to work are saving money on gas and saving time in the HOV lanes. California’s incentives for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and clean transportation were important factors as we considered these steps. These projects would not have happened without California renewable energy policies like AB 32 in place.

Companies have a choice about how to address the cost of doing business safely and whether or not to pass all that cost on to customers. The top five oil producers earned $93 billion in profits last year. This is not an industry without options.

Our company is proud to be part of the economic powerhouse that is California – the eighth largest economy in the world. We appreciate the opportunities AB 32 has created, and the clear market signal it sends. It is putting California businesses on a level playing field.

Making the summit is going to require astute leadership and the right set of tools. AB 32 is good for business and good for our health. Let’s keep it up.

Anker is a fifth generation Californian from Tuolumne County. He has summited Mt. Everest three times and is the Athlete Team Captain for The North Face, a member of Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP).

 

Cap-and-trade law levels playing field for reducing carbon emissions: Guest commentary

By Tom Bowman | May 27, 2014

For decades, polluting industries have argued that California’s policy approach to addressing cleaning up our air harms our economy. The misleading warnings and doom-and-gloom predictions haven’t materialized — instead Californians continue to support our state’s approach to addressing climate change, in polls and at the ballot box.

It’s unfortunate that some continue to spread misinformation, largely based on the messaging of certain industries like oil companies that want to escape the level playing field where others like automakers and utilities are already playing.

Despite what you might have read, California landmark clean energy and climate law, Assembly Bill 32, and its cap-and-trade program currently being implemented, are working just as intended. The state’s largest emitters must buy permits to pollute. The marketplace, not the state, sets the price of those permits based on supply and demand. The beauty of this system is that each regulated company must look to the future and figure out how and when to cut harmful emissions — and the need for permits — most inexpensively.

As a business owner, I appreciate that level of certainty, and it’s that predictability of AB32 that has allowed the program to thrive. California’s cap-and-trade program has been praised as the best designed in the world. And the system is working. More than $663 million in proceeds are available to invest in clean energy and communities impacted by air pollution. Then there is the 17 percent decline in emissions in California from sources regulated under the cap since 2008.

Meanwhile, California is a hotbed of clean energy innovation. Our state attracts more private investment than any other — more than $27 billion since 2006, according to the California Green Innovation Index — and with new investments come jobs. We are seeing a thriving clean vehicle marketplace — registrations of zero emission vehicles increased 62 percent between 2011 and 2012 — and with cleaner cars come savings at the gas pump.

Most new technologies are expensive at first. Just like calculators, personal computers and smart phones, solar power and low-emission vehicles are becoming more affordable all the time. As they catch on and prices drop, consumers have more options that can save real money on monthly energy bills.

So the question isn’t how much more gasoline might cost in the future. The question is how many options consumers will have to reduce their dependence on volatile gas prices in the first place.

The state’s clean energy policies like AB32 are creating more and more options every year, and Californians are enjoying the benefits.

Consumers also will get cleaner fuel and transportation options, with less reliance on oil, through policies like the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, a key component of AB32. A new study by ICF International, commissioned by a coalition of business groups, looks at the LCFS’s impacts on the economy — including employment rates, personal income, and gross state product, and finds that any potential adverse impacts will be negligible and will be far outweighed by all the positive impacts.

California’s LCFS and AB32 cap-and-trade program are structured to ensure that emissions in future years will continually decline. Capturing transportation fuels within the cap is essential to managing the largest source of emissions within the state.

Air pollution, drought, wildfires — these are all costly to our health and our communities. We will pay far more in the future if we don’t fully commit to reducing the impacts of carbon pollution today.

AB 32 is already doing what needs to be done: reducing carbon and air pollution for everyone. It’s a win for our environment, our health, our economy and our pocketbooks.

Tom Bowman is president of Bowman Design Group in Signal Hill.