CLIMATE CHANGE ROUNDUP: Proposition 23 Trails in Early Poll

By Published On: July 16, 2010

Proposition 23--a measure to suspend the state’s climate change law AB 32--would lose if the vote was held today, according to a July 9 California Field Poll. The survey showed that 48 percent of state voters oppose the proposition compared to 36 percent who support it. The rest had no opinion. Of the 39 percent of voters who had heard about the November ballot measure, 44 percent favored it and 45 percent were against it. Of those who had not heard of it, 50 percent were against it when read a summary and 31 percent opposed it. Support is strongest among voters with a high school education or less, 49 percent of whom favored the measure and 29 percent of whom were against it. Support for the measure declined as educational level increased, with only 26 percent of voters having completed post graduate work favoring the measure and 62 percent of those against it. “Voters flat out reject the core concept that California’s clean energy and clean air laws should be rolled back,” stated Steve Maviglio, who is managing the no campaign for Californians for Clean Energy & Jobs. Proposition 23 co-chair John Kabateck maintained that “the only thing this so-called poll illustrates is that the majority of voters have not heard about Proposition 23.” * * * * * As the California Air Resources Board stands poised to adopt a 33 percent renewable electricity portfolio standard as part of its greenhouse gas reduction strategy, the Division of Ratepayers Advocates urges caution. In a July 9 letter to the Air Board, DRA electric planning and policy program manager Cynthia Walker wrote that air regulators should include a $50 price cap on renewable energy credits. A renewable energy credit under the proposed standard equals the renewable attribute of 1 MWh of power. Under the standard, California utilities could purchase these credits from out-of-state producers of renewable energy to satisfy the Air Board requirement even though the power would be consumed elsewhere. The DRA official also recommended allowing utilities to average renewable energy levels over five years so they can buy renewable power when it’s cheap but hold off when it is expensive. She urged limiting expenditures on renewable energy to 6 percent of utilities’ total system annual revenue requirements. Walker added that so far renewable energy “costs have proven to be significant.” That’s why controls are needed to “protect consumers from excessive renewable costs” under a 33 percent standard, she concluded. The Air Board is expected to adopt the 33 percent renewable energy standard on July 22. * * * * * The federal Environmental Protection Agency July 12 proposed ramping up the amount of renewable fuel sold in the U.S. next year to 13.95 billion gallons from a projected 12.95 billion gallons this year. That’s an increase of 7.7 percent. In a move that could benefit at least one California firm, next year EPA demands an increase in the amount of cellulosic, biomass-based, and advanced biofuels sold, as opposed to just conventional corn-based ethanol. The agency pointed out that AE Advanced Fuels in Keyes, CA, expects to begin making 500,000 gallons a year of cellulosic ethanol next summer from corn stover. California rules allow use of ethanol both in pure form and as a fuel additive. EPA is acting under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which called for a national renewable fuel standard. The standard requires fuel sellers to include an ever increasing percentage of renewable fuel in the products they sell until the level reaches 36 billion gallons a year in 2022. The U.S. consumes almost 300 billion gallons a year of liquid fuels, according to the Energy Information Administration. * * * * * A team of Stanford University researchers warn that over the next 30 years California and the West should brace for an increasing number of heat waves that last longer. The heat waves are inevitable, they say, even if global warming is capped at an additional 2 degrees centigrade increase in Earth’s average temperature. The study, released July 8, is based on modeling what happens to climate as greenhouse gas emissions rise. It found that the number of strong heat waves a year in California is likely to increase from a couple to as many as six by the 2030-2039 timeframe. This presents a threat to human health and agricultural yields, particularly of wine grapes, the researchers noted, not to mention increasing stress on the power grid. “Frankly, I was expecting that we’d see large temperature increases later this century with higher greenhouse gas levels and global warming,” stated Noah Diffenbaugh, Stanford assistant professor of environmental Earth system science and lead author of the study. “I did not expect to see anything this large within the next three decades.”

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