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Let's cool it

Local government should implement state measures to curb climate change

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California State Senator-Elect Fran Pavley will be in SLO at Rancho El Chorro on Saturday, June 21, to speak about climate protection at the Sierra Club California annual convention. Senator Pavley is the author of Assembly Bill 32, California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, the first law in the United States to put an enforceable cap on emissions of global warming pollution.

The measure has given a new urgency to the saying “As California goes, so goes the nation.” This month, the U.S. Senate turned down the possibility of even discussing what must be done to combat climate change, when 46 Democrats and 8 Republicans voted for a global warming bill that would have meant a shift to renewable energy, a “green jobs” economy, and a departure from our dependency on Big Oil. That wasn’t enough votes to break a Republican filibuster. The do-nothing contingent triumphed.

So California remains the place where the climate action is. To follow the mandate of AB 32, the State Legislature is now looking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with a package of measures on transportation planning, renewable electricity, vehicle emissions, cleaner fuels, greener buildings, water conservation, and solid waste reduction, recycling, and composting.

AB 32 is one of three state energy laws that Sierra Club California is looking toward to implement a U-turn in state energy policy. The other two are the Renewable Portfolio Standard (SB 1078) and Community Choice Aggregation (AB 117).

Community Choice Aggregation, or CCA, allows cities and counties to supply electricity to residents and thereby prospectively increase the proportion of renewable energy and locally control electric rates, freeing rates from the exclusive control of investor-owned private utilities. Public utilities nationwide have been able to offer rates up to 20 percent lower than investor-owned utilities. All CCA decisions are directly accountable to local customers.

It’s a trend that private utilities like PG&E are not pleased to see spreading. On January 9, the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments heard the initial review of a plan to perform a regional feasibility study for Community Choice Aggregation. PG&E argued against it, for obvious reasons.

Localized energy production, not centralized power—which is invariably fossil- or nuke-powered—is the path to a green, renewable future. Consumer and environmental organizations are flocking to support Community Choice Aggregation. Cities and counties need get off the dime and form CCAs before the profit-seeking, investor-owned utilities can further expand their fossil-fuel and nuclear plant expansion plans at the expense of conservation, energy efficiency, rooftop solar panels and distributed generation of solar energy, and other renewables.

The topic will be on the agenda at Rancho El Chorro during the evening discussion of Sierra Club California’s statewide climate action campaigns, following Senator Pavley’s address at 4:30 p.m. on June 21. The convention marks the 21st anniversary of Sierra Club California. The state entity was created when the national Sierra Club, by far the largest environmental organization in California, decided the club’s 200,000 members and 13 state regional chapters needed a voice in Sacramento to lobby the state legislature, the administration, and state agencies to protect California’s natural resources and the health and safety of Californians.

Sierra Club California must charge a $45 fee for the June 21-22 Convention at Rancho El Chorro. which covers all programs, Saturday birthday dinner party, bunk-bed lodging, and Sunday breakfast The fee for those who do not have meals or sleep over is $20. Bring your own sleeping bag and pillow. Make on-site payment arrangements by contacting registrar Lori Ives at ives@ivesico.net or call (909) 621-7148.


Andrew Christie directs the Santa Lucia Chapter of the Sierra Club. Send comments to him at sierraclub8@gmail.com or to the editor at econnolly@newtimesslo.com

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