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Budget Deficit Could Make Gov. Brown's 2011 Climate To-Do List Daunting

Democrats in the Legislature have introduced a bill to mandate a Renewable Portfolio Stamdard of 33 percent by 2020

By Robert Collier

Jan 3, 2011

For California, indisputably the nation’s leader on climate policies, 2011 is likely to be a year in which the state comfortably widens its lead. From auto emissions standards to the construction of solar and wind farms, California is expected to take major steps forward.

The first step will be decidedly backward, however. Soon after he is inaugurated today, Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to solve the state’s unprecedented $25 billion budget deficit by making deep, across-the-board spending cuts that include vital climate-related programs such as subsidies for mass transit.

Still, the state’s climate policy backers are hopeful.

“Jerry Brown has been visionary and consistent on this issue, especially renewables, since the 1970s, so we have high hopes,” said Sen. Fran Pavley, a Santa Monica Democrat who spearheaded the state’s strict auto emissions rules.

She noted that the chair of the powerful Air Resources Board, Mary Nichols, held the same post during Brown’s previous time as governor, from 1978 to 1983, so California will enjoy in 2011 an unusual level of political continuity for climate and energy policies.

Beyond the immediate budget bloodbath, the agenda for Brown and state legislators will be chock full. While much public attention will be focused on the continued roll-out of detailed regulations for the state’s cap- and-trade system, announced Dec. 16, the coming months will bring a host of decisions on other climate-related policies with equal or larger impact.

In separate interviews with SolveClimate News, legislators, regulators and environmental advocates alike said that two key issues top their To-Do lists for the new year: improvements in the Renewables Portfolio Standard and the so-called Pavley Standard.

Giving the RPS the Force of Law

The Renewable Portfolio Standard, or RPS specifies the share of total energy supply that utilities must provide from renewable energy sources. Originally created by the Legislature in 2002 with a mandate of 20 percent, California’s RPS was further accelerated by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who signed an executive order that mandated an RPS of 33 percent by 2020.

Yet the clean-tech industry and their billionaire investors say they need the 33 percent level to have the force of law, rather than just being an executive order, to give them confidence to invest billions of dollars to build industrial-size solar and wind farms.

“Investors, financiers and developers of renewable energy are saying that the policy has to be set in stone, rather than just an executive order that can be overturned anytime,” said Daniel Kalb, California policy coordinator for the Union of Concerned Scientists. “This is a top priority.”

Democrats in the Legislature have introduced legislation to codify the 33 percent level, and environmental groups say they hope the measure will be fast-tracked and signed soon by Brown, who promised during his election campaign that he would support a standard of 33 percent.

“If California does something this big, it will have a significant effect on neighboring states and the whole Western region,” Kalb said.

62 Miles Per Gallon Standard?

For decades, California’s tailpipe emissions regulations have been the locomotive that dragged forward the federal government’s own rules. Now, environmentalists and industry are battling once again. The Pavley Standard, finally echoed by the Obama administration when it adopted a 2016 nationwide goal of 35.5 average miles per gallon, is now scheduled to be strengthened yet again.

In mid-2011, the Air Resources Board is expected to vote on new rules for the next period of 2017-2025, governing greenhouse gas emissions as well as soot and conventional pollutants. For CO2 emissions, the Board is considering the same range as the U.S. EPA is evaluating for federal standards – an annual reduction of 3 percent to 6 percent. Environmentalists are pushing hard for the 6 percent level, which would create a standard roughly equivalent to 62 miles per gallon.

Budget Deficit Could Make Gov. Brown's 2011 Climate To-Do List D

Valero is #1 corn fuel ethanol producer in the US


* * Alex Farrell, Gray Davis & Gary Condit interest in fuel oxygenates seemed interesting


* * California CalEPA Secretary Linda Adams, signed a MOU with the UN in China on earth day. China gets about 50% of the world carbon tax and the China government gets a 50% tax of the credits.


** China goods and services may increase


** We pay the (ethanol or) carbon tax and Pew Business Environmental Leadership Council (BELC) Member Companies: ABB, Air Products, Alcoa Inc., American Electric Power, Bank of America, BASF, Baxter International Inc., The Boeing Company, BP, California Portland Cement, CH2M HILL, Citi, Cummins Inc., Deere & Company, Deutsche Telekom, The Dow Chemical Company, DTE Energy, Duke Energy, DuPont, Entergy, Exelon, GE, Hewlett-Packard Company, Holcim (US) Inc., IBM, Intel, Interface Inc., Johnson Controls, Inc., Lockheed Martin, Marsh, Inc., Novartis, Ontario Power Generation, PG&E Corporation, PNM Resources, Rio Tinto, Rohm and Haas, Royal Dutch/Shell, SC Johnson, Toyota, TransAlta, United Technologies, Weyerhaeuser, Whirlpool Corporation, Wisconsin Energy Corporation and friends may all share in the public/private partnership of corporate and NGO welfare


Get food out of my gas


  * * Was Dr. Russell Long/REAP/Pavley 2002 CA tailpipe bill for corn fuel ethanol, Bill Jones’ Pacific Ethanol business?

 * * Clean Air Performance Professionals (CAPP) supports a Smog Check inspection & repair secret shopper audit, gasoline ethanol fuel cap and elimination of dual fuel CAFÉ credit to cut car impact over 50% in 1 year.

 * * Some folks believe ethanol in gasoline increases oil use and oil profit

 * * Ethanol uses lots of water

 * *  A Smog Check audit would cut toxic car impact in ½ in 1 year. Chief Sherry Mehl, CA/DCA/BAR, has never found out if what is broken on a Smog Check failed car gets fixed.

 * *  An ethanol waiver would stop billions in California Big oil refinery welfare program

 * * About 60,000 barrels per day of the oil used by cars is allowed by the "renewable fuel" CAFE credit

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