FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sacramento CA | March 26, 2020 – Today, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) took a step in the right direction by requiring load-serving entities (LSEs) to prepare an additional plan that meets a 38 million metric ton (MMT) target for the electric sector in 2030. In a major win for community members, the PUC has also closed key loopholes to prevent the construction of new polluting gas generation in California.
While the Commission has left open the possibility to later adopt an emissions target below the current 46 MMT target, the decision allows current gas-fired power plants to continue polluting with very little restriction, exacerbating the adverse health impacts experienced by many low-income communities and communities of color living near gas-fired power plants.
Additionally, a suggested 38 MMT plan does encourage the decline of polluting gas, but today’s decision does not go far enough to meet the state’s climate and air quality goals. Adopting a firm 30 MMT target—as suggested by a diverse group of advocates and stakeholders—would allow California to meet the clean energy and air quality goals as mandated by law. The Commission must exhibit climate leadership by explicitly mandating LSEs to adopt a lower emission target than 46 MMT, and intentionally prioritize environmental justice communities whose health and safety are threatened every day due to our dependence on gas.
In response, Jose Torres, CEJA Energy Equity Program Director, issued the following statement:
“While today’s decision is a step in the right direction, California is still far from achieving the 100% energy reality that frontline community members deserve. With the plan adopted on Thursday, the PUC is placing the state on the path to stricter emissions limits while preventing the opening of new gas-powered plants. Nevertheless, the Commission is falling short by not taking more rigorous action that explicitly prioritizes EJ communities. For the working families who live and breathe the polluted air of gas-powered plants every day, an energy transition can’t come fast enough. As the current health crisis has made painfully clear, the failure to act on the recommendations of community members and scientists alike will only force the state to take drastic actions at a later date. In the months to come, we will continue to fight for the PUC to adopt the emissions targets that science demands and California residents deserve.”
Luis Amezcua, Sierra Club Senior Campaign Representative issued the following statement:
“We welcome the Commission’s decision as it closes the door on new gas, and allows utilities to invest in much needed clean energy projects than what was originally planned for by 2030. For California to meet its clean energy and air quality commitments, the Commission must step up and lead by accelerating the deployment of new clean energy resources, energy storage projects, and power infrastructure upgrades. We must go beyond business as usual, and act with the urgency that is necessary to adequately tackle the climate crisis. Anything less is a missed opportunity for reducing our dependence on gas, creating good paying jobs, and safeguarding affordability and reliability.”
Too many polluting gas-fired power plants are concentrated in neighborhoods with low incomes and communities of color, threatening the livelihoods of vulnerable working families, who are already burdened with high asthma rates and polluted air—and now face the economic upheaval of a growing pandemic. Moving forward, California must prioritize an equitable transition to protect our public health and invest in a regenerative clean energy economy that supports job growth.
About the Regenerate CA campaign
Regenerate California is a coalition of environmental and economic justice advocates led by the California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA), the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice (CCAEJ), the Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE), Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), and the Sierra Club who, together, share a vision for California where we run on 100% clean renewable energy – ensuring our children grow up breathing clean air and the most impacted communities have access to renewable energy and local jobs. We have a vision to transition off of dirty and dangerous gas plants in California, and to create a regenerative and just clean energy economy.