9 Assembly Democrats opposed 100% renewable energy bill

The California Legislature’s adoption of Senate Bill 100 – committing the state to have an electricity grid powered by 100 percent renewable energy in 2045 – was billed by Sen. Kevin De León, D-Los Angeles, (pictured) as another landmark triumph for the environmental movement in the Golden State.

But the measure’s relatively narrow adoption in the Assembly – on a 44-33 vote – carries loud hints from Democrats who represent poor communities that they see environmental policies that add to the cost of living as increasingly problematic in the state with the nation’s highest level of poverty.

A Los Angeles Times interview with Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, hammered home this point:

“This is yet another in a laundry list of bills that are discriminatory to the people I represent,” Gray said. He was paraphrased as “saying that supporters were motivated to impress national progressives rather than poor residents in rural communities who would face higher electric bills as a result of the legislation.”

The Assembly Democrats who opposed SB100 besides Gray: Anna Caballero of Salinas, Jim Cooper of Elk Grove, Tom Daly of Anaheim, Jim Frazier of Oakley, Mike Gipson of south Los Angeles, Sharon Quirk-Silva of Fullerton, Blanca Rubio of the San Gabriel Valley and Rudy Salas of Bakersfield.

The issue of how poor people would be affected was very much part of the debate in the run-up to the 2006 adoption by the Legislature of the landmark anti-global warming Assembly Bill 32, which mandated the use of costlier but cleaner energy sources. As a result, a portion of cap-and-trade fees on pollution permits are designated to go to “disadvantaged” communities.

A 2017 report by the California Climate Investments state website said that $614 million in cap-and-trade fees had been spent on these communities, including helping nearly 30,000 homeowners with solar panels and other energy-efficient projects, as well as funding more than 2,600 affordable-housing units.

Energy costs contribute to state’s high poverty rate

But most of the 20 percent-plus of state residents who are impoverished get relatively little direct help in dealing with overall energy costs that aren’t just higher on average than any other state with a relatively temperate climate; they’re also higher than states with harsh winters like Montana and Colorado. And because of unique state rules and fees, gasoline costs more in California than any state but Hawaii.

California’s emergence as the nation’s most impoverished state only became evident in 2011, when the U.S. Census Bureau began issuing state-by-state poverty statistics that included the cost of living. This has helped create an appreciation in the Legislature of the need to add housing stock to try to slow the sharp increase in rent and home prices over the past quarter-century.

But a recent study by Chapman University’s Center for Demographics and Policy found that state energy policies were also a major contributor to high poverty rates.

The study faulted state agencies, starting with the California Air Resources Board, for their impact studies which have consistently minimized the effects of laws like AB32 on the less affluent.

“Notably absent [in the air board’s ‘scoping plan’ for AB32] is any discussion of how the state’s existing costs, let alone additional burdens, severely harm lower-income and historically disadvantaged communities and households,” the study noted.

Gov. Jerry Brown has so far declined direct comment on SB100, but most Capitol watchers expect him to sign the bill. The governor has called climate change the state’s and nation’s most pressing problem.


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  1. Sean
    Sean 4 September, 2018, 17:03

    Clever plan the legislature has. Alleviate poverty in the golden state by driving the poor out with exceptionally high living costs. Might work.

    Reply this comment
    • Sean
      Sean 15 September, 2018, 11:49

      Just ran across a report from the legislative analysts office from February of this year titled “California Losing Residents Via Domestic Migration”. Apparently, it IS working. The low income, less educated and young people are leaving in greater proportions.

      Reply this comment
  2. John Galt
    John Galt 4 September, 2018, 21:24

    PG&E, SCE & SDG&E all have CPUC demanded residential tariffs that differentiate against residential households who are moderate or above in annual household income. As a result, medium and above income households of these CPUC regulated private utilities pay tariffs that are about 30% above rates paid by low income households. CPUC residential electric tariffs are the highest in the United States and force middle class households to heavily subsidize low income households to the tune of several billions of dollars each year, without giving a tax deduction for what would be an illegal government taking by a government agency without due legislative process. Monopoly rates and tariffs in other states, and even rates of municipal electric utilities within California, are cost-of-service based by class and all households pay much less for power. A statewide ballot measure is needed to require CPUC to demand average embedded cost-of-service calculations rather than the crazy pricing and intraclass subsidies now in place.

    Reply this comment
  3. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 5 September, 2018, 16:28

    Fake News creeping in folks. Or…..when we moved to a condo our water, gas and electric went way down. Our junk mail is down over 60 percent. Ah. Condo dwellers must be destitute….

    Uli finally gets a break????

    Thk you Jerry Brown-

    Reply this comment
  4. Marin Native
    Marin Native 8 September, 2018, 01:16

    Again our Progressive Golden State is showing the way, one more step to save the planet. We are just so special and “Green”.

    Reply this comment
  5. Ted Trumpsteaks
    Ted Trumpsteaks 10 September, 2018, 18:11

    Alot of fake news out here trumpaloopas– the Dems will do the right thing– they usually do—

    Reply this comment
    • Sean
      Sean 11 September, 2018, 05:33

      The last aspirational CO2 emission law was the low carbon fuel standard passed almost 10 years ago. It presumed there would be plenty of cellulose based ethanol to meet demand but that never materialized. Sugarcane based ethanol meets the standard, corn ethanol does not so the state will likely be importing this. The people who don’t enjoy the wealth or fair weather of the coasts know who will pay for the aspirations of the Democratic party and the Lt. Gov.’s lead has dropped to single digits in the bluest of blue states.

      Reply this comment
      • Dr. T Steele, Climate Scientist
        Dr. T Steele, Climate Scientist 11 September, 2018, 10:56

        wrong Sean— Electric cars will take up a lot of slack as well– all other renewables—-

        Reply this comment
        • Sean
          Sean 12 September, 2018, 13:38

          Wonderful solution if your well off. A Chevy Bolt starts at $36K while the similarly sized Honda Fit starts at $17K. But wait, there are subsidies for the Chevy Bolt. It doesn’t make up the difference by a long shot and it will be paid with higher gas prices by the poor slob driving a 12 year old gasoline or diesel powered vehicle via cap and trade and the low carbon fuel credits. A third of California’s citizens are on MediCal and public assistance. Does raising their living costs to make a public gesture to the green gods seem justifiable? Then again, since many blue collar jobs may leave the state, perhaps they’ll follow those jobs to less green pastures.

          Reply this comment
  6. eck
    eck 15 September, 2018, 19:12

    So there actually ARE intelligent Dems in the legislature. Who knew? And they actually defied fake “Latino – add a De’ before your (3rd generation?) Portuguese) name” Leon? Wow! Maybe there’s hope (NOT!).

    Reply this comment
  7. Bill - San Jose
    Bill - San Jose 25 September, 2018, 07:13

    Wisdom comes from experience. No place else.

    When the solar boom occurred, I was installing some equipment into a factory here in San Jose. Amazed by the technology, I compliment the engineer whose equipment we were placing.

    He says “ thank you. We are working on many methods to use solar however if we built factories for 20 years and then ran them for 20 years, we will still only have 5% of what the world will need. We will still need petroleum, nuclear and hydro.

    Smartest guys in the world and apparently Jerry can’t find one.

    Grow up already.

    Reply this comment

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Chris Reed

Chris Reed

Chris Reed is a regular contributor to Cal Watchdog. Reed is an editorial writer for U-T San Diego. Before joining the U-T in July 2005, he was the opinion-page columns editor and wrote the featured weekly Unspin column for The Orange County Register. Reed was on the national board of the Association of Opinion Page Editors from 2003-2005. From 2000 to 2005, Reed made more than 100 appearances as a featured news analyst on Los Angeles-area National Public Radio affiliate KPCC-FM. From 1990 to 1998, Reed was an editor, metro columnist and film critic at the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin in Ontario. Reed has a political science degree from the University of Hawaii (Hilo campus), where he edited the student newspaper, the Vulcan News, his senior year. He is on Twitter: @chrisreed99.

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