Letter to Califonia Legislators
We, the members of the Environmental Justice Movement in California, write to you today to underscore the importance of increasing the Renewable Portfolio Standard. California, in addition to conservation, has three energy paths before it: increasing reliance on imported natural gas, the resurgence of the nuclear industry (prohibited under current law), or increased use of renewable energy,
Environmental justice communities have borne the brunt of the fossil fuel infrastructure now for over three generations: Increased mortality rates, diminished quality of life, and the terrible toll which chronic diseases due to air pollution from power plants take upon our communities. These existing inequities deserve redress. The redress we are asking of you is that you pass an aggressive, socially just Renewable Portfolio Standard of 33% this legislative session.
There are currently over 20 new natural gas fired power plants proposed for California. To date, all those proposals are in environmental justice communities. The new fossil fuel infrastructure which California is signing up for imports natural gas from Russia and Indonesia through ports in Mexico and Oregon. This fuel is piped throughout California and burned in low-income communities of color, The pollution from these power plants exacerbates existing air pollution problems causing increased respiratory illness in our children and heart and respiratory problems in our elders.
· We know the devastating effects that burning fossil fuel has directly in our communities, we also know many things about our current energy choices:
· We know that California has an abundance of clean, renewable energy.
· We know that the energy needs of our entire state (~60,000 MW) can be run from California’s rooftop solar alone.
· We know that there is enough wind energy, on and off shore, in California to run the entire West and enough solar in our deserts to supply the energy needs of our entire nation.
· We know that lightweight solar films are rolling off production lines in gigawatts of energy per year.
· We know that power generated in our communities enhances the reliability of the grid and that power produced far from our communities is less reliable and requires expensive and destructive transmission lines.
· We know that energy efficiency measures alone can save us 20% of our energy in the next decade and provide skilled labor for our youth.
· We know that retooling our energy infrastructure to increase reliability and reduce inefficiencies can provide thousands of skilled, high wage jobs in our communities.
And we know that it only takes 150 people to run a natural gas fired power plant.
The Environmental Justice Movement in California wants many things, but primary among those many things is that:
We want our youth to be hopeful about their future. We want our youth to know that as leaders of our generation, we thought about the life and the legacy we are leaving them. We want them to know that we made tough choices and sacrifices so that their lives could be better. Chaining California’s energy infrastructure to a fossil fuel future is not the choice that says we care about our children’s future.
In the face of rising seas, drowning polar bears, food shortages due to desertification and drought, hurricanes, tornadoes, and all the other ills of global warming it is nonsensical to allow future energy demand in California to be based upon fossil fuel. It would be the most irresponsible and shortsighted act we could take in the face of all the evidence we have before us on the dangers of global warming.
We urge you to act this session to put a socially just Renewable Portfolio Standard goal of 33% on the Governor’s desk. A just RPS standard would force utilities to actually build renewables in California on time.
We urge you resist efforts by the major utilities to create escape clauses in the RPS goal—there should be no compliance off ramps that substitute penalty monies (paid for by ratepayers) for a lack of compliance. Credit for meeting the RPS goal should be granted when electrons flow through the grid, not when bogus contracts are signed promising what is never delivered. And if Californians are to pay a premium for their electricity, then all the benefits from that higher price should accrue to the ratepayers. The clean air benefit, the increased grid reliability from distributed and local energy generation benefit, and the benefits of job creation and economic development should all accrue to California communities. Renewable Energy Credits which, in essence, export Californian’s money, jobs, and clean air to other states must be rejected in the RPS. And finally, the most vulnerable among us should be protected from higher electricity prices. We should not be pushing more children into poverty with our electricity pricing practices. Low income ratepayer protections should be strengthened in this RPS.
Thank you for your leadership and commitment to building a better, more just California. We look forward to working with you to make California a healthier, more just place to live, work, play, and pray.