After facing late opposition from labor unions, a measure to require utility companies to use renewable energy for all of the retail electricity sold in the state faltered in the final week of the legislative session. Senate Bill 100, introduced by Sen. President Pro Tem Kevin de León, calls for all retail electricity sold in the state by utility companies to come from renewable energy and zero-carbon sources by 2046. The measure also accelerates the timeline to hit interim targets that became law under Senate Bill 350 in 2015.
According to current law, 50 percent of California electricity must come from renewable sources by the end of 2030, which the proposal shifts to 2026. The state would need to hit 52 percent by 2028 and 60 percent by 2031.
The measure faced unusual opposition from labor unions that originally endorsed the measure. Utility and electrical workers changed sides late in the game after de León refused to accept their amendments to the bill. The California Coalition of Utility Employees and the California State Association of Electrical Workers had been urging members of the Assembly to kill the bill.
Assemblyman Chris Holden, D-Pasadena, elected to hold the bill in the house’s utility and energy committee, effectively killing it for the year. Holden, the utility chair, said the measure came to his committee too late to craft amendments that appeased labor and still resulted in sound policy. A ballot measure voters passed in November requires bills to be in print without changes for 72 hours before the final vote.
A pioneering California program to sell carbon offsets has surprising environmental benefits – including providing habitat for endangered species – and provides lessons for initiatives under development in other states and countries.
The program as a whole leads to emissions reductions that wouldn’t have occurred otherwise, the Stanford scientists found after analyzing metrics used to confirm individual projects’ robustness.
You can’t grow money on trees, but you can earn money for letting trees grow. Or at least you can through a pioneering California program that allows forest owners around the United States to sell carbon credits to companies required by the state to reduce emissions. Researchers at Stanford analyzed the program and found that the initiative has valuable environmental benefits beyond just offsetting greenhouse gases….
….“California provides the first proof of concept with a government program that credits standing forests.”
….Forest offsets, which account for the majority of offsets in California’s cap and trade market, involve forest owners changing the way they manage their land so trees will store more carbon…cutting trees less often, reforesting previously forested land or improving forests through various management practices…
For each additional ton of carbon dioxide their trees store, forest owners can earn a credit – worth about $10 currently – to sell to California companies required to reduce or offset their greenhouse gas emissions. Since it started in 2013, the program has earned forest owners about $250 million, while offsetting 25 million tons of carbon – an amount equal to 5 percent of California’s annual passenger vehicle emissions.
…Although California’s cap and trade program allows the use of forest offsets up to an amount equaling 8 percent of a polluter’s emissions, the volume issued so far is only 2 percent of total capped emissions. Because the pool of available offsets is quite small, polluters still need to reduce their own emissions directly, rather than relying on purchasing offsets. The program as a whole leads to emissions reductions that wouldn’t have occurred otherwise, the Stanford scientists found after analyzing metrics used to confirm individual projects’ robustness.
Still, Anderson and her co-authors warn against using forest offsets in large numbers because they may distract from urgent and drastic emissions reduction priorities elsewhere….
published on August 28, 2017 – 3:48 PM Written by The Business Journal Staff- full article here
In what the state is billing as “a major step toward sustainable groundwater management in California,” more than 99 percent of the state’s groundwater basins have met a key deadline in reporting groundwater pumping.
According to the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) of 2014, key stakeholders of the state’s 127 high- and medium-priority groundwater basins were required to form a Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) to manage groundwater pumping. The deadline for formation of the GSAs was June 30, and as of this week, more than 99 percent had been formed.
…The next step for SGMA compliance is to create and implement groundwater sustainability plans that describe the plan for bringing “basins into balanced levels of pumping and recharge.” Basins identified as critically overdrafted are required to have sustainability plans in place by Jan. 21, 2020, while all other high- and medium-priority basins have until Jan. 31, 2022, to adopt plans.\
‘California Climate Science and Solutions Institute’ would fund basic- and applied-research projects designed to help the state to grapple with the hard realities of global warming with revenue from the state’s cap and trade program
California has a history of going it alone to protect the environment. Now… scientists in the Golden State are sketching plans for a home-grown climate-research institute — to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars per year.
The initiative, which is backed by California’s flagship universities, is in the early stages of development. If it succeeds, it will represent one of the largest US investments in climate research in years. The nascent ‘California Climate Science and Solutions Institute’ would fund basic- and applied-research projects designed to help the state to grapple with the hard realities of global warming.
The project could be funded by revenue from the state’s cap-and-trade programme to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, but its political prospects are unclear. Advocates say they have received a warm reception from California Governor Jerry Brown, but a spokesperson for Brown would say only that “discussions are ongoing”. The proposal must also clear the state legislature….
But the California initiative still faces significant challenges. Severin Borenstein, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, warns that academics will face plenty of competition for a limited pool of cap-and-trade revenue…..Nonetheless, Borenstein favours the climate initiative, because he sees global warming as an issue on which California can have a truly global impact.
“The main way California can contribute to dealing with climate change is through innovation,” he says. “We can invent and test the technologies and processes that will allow the rest of the world to reduce their greenhouse-gas emissions.”
…Last August, the State Legislature set a goal of slashing emissions more than 40 percent below today’s levels by 2030,a far deeper cut than President Barack Obama proposed for the entire United States and deeper than most other countries have contemplated. So how will California pull this off?
Until now, most states have followed a standard playbook for curbing emissions. Market forces have replaced older coal plants with cheaper and cleaner natural gas, while state mandates have added modest shares of wind and solar power to the grid. As a result, domestic carbon dioxide emissions have fallen 14 percent since 2005 at relatively little cost.
…In January, California’s Air Resources Board, which has broad latitude to carry out the state’s climate laws, detailed one possible strategy for cutting emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.
Second, the board envisioned the number of electric cars and other zero-emissions vehicles on California’s roads rising to 4.2 million by 2030 from 250,000 today. Freight trucks would have to become more efficient or electrified, while cities would need to adopt far-reaching strategies to promote mass transit, biking and walking.
But a major push on renewable power and transportation would get California just one-fourth of the way toward its goal.Other cuts would come from doubling efficiency savings from buildings and industry, no mean feat in a state that already has some of the strictest building codes in the country. The state would also need to lower the carbon content of its gasoline supply under the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, possibly by increasing biofuel use.
One-third of the reductions in the proposal would come from curbing emissions of methane — a potent greenhouse gas — from landfills, wastewater facilities and manure piles at dairy farms. No state has ever regulated agriculture so aggressively, and dairy farmers are pushing back, warning that capturing methane from millions of cows could prove untenable.
…So, as a complement to these efforts, Mr. Brown insisted on expanding another major program: cap and trade.…Mr. Brown has promoted California’s policies as a way of convincing the world that the United States won’t abandon the fight against climate change, even after Mr. Trump announced a withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement. “I want to do everything we can to keep America on track, keep the world on track,” Mr. Brown said in May.
California is responsible for only 1 percent of global emissions. But it could contribute even more to the world’s efforts by advancing new tools to tackle climate change, like floating deepwater wind farms.
In a big victory for Gov. Jerry Brown, state lawmakers approved a 10-year extension for California’s cap-and-trade program. The vote came with bipartisan support, a significant shift from previous years where climate policies squeaked by along party lines or with only a handful of Republicans in favor.
Cap and trade requires companies to buy permits to release greenhouse gas [GHG] emissions. The legislation approved on Monday, Assembly Bill 398, will continue the program until 2030. Lawmakers also approved related legislation, Assembly Bill 617, to improve air quality in polluted communities.
…California’s program is the only one of its kind in the U.S. and has been considered an international model for using financial pressure to prod industry to reduce emissions. …
…“California Republicans are different than national Republicans,” said Assembly Republican leader Chad Mayes (R-Yucca Valley), who pushed members of his caucus to work with Democrats on the issue. “Many of us believe that climate change is real, and that it’s a responsibility we have to work to address it.” The legislation to extend cap and trade, Assembly Bill 398, passed 55 to 21 in the Assembly and 28 to 12 in the Senate….
Leave a CommentAnne C. Mulkern, E&E News reporterRead full article here….Effects of higher oceans already are visible in the Golden State: Low-lying areas are experiencing more frequent flooding; chunks of beachfront bluffs have crashed to the shore, in some cases killing people sitting nearby; and the walkable beach is shrinking as the tide rises. Beaches in northern San Diego County and in Los Angeles County’s famed Malibu already have narrowed. Those losses are minor compared with what could lie ahead, scientists say. Seas could rise 3 to 6 feet by the end of the century. If ice caps melt swiftly, oceans could swell as much as 10 feet. That disastrous scenario would submerge beaches and devastate coastal cities.The Golden State faces tough decisions as it looks at how to proceed. One of the fiercest battles is shaping up over how to preserve beaches as coastal homeowners add sea walls, devices known to accelerate sand loss. “The longer that we wait, the harder it’s going to be in the future,” said Madeline Cavalieri, coastal planner at the California Coastal Commission, which has authority over most development in counties along the coast. “We need to put policies in place right now in order to ensure safety from hazards, in order to ensure orderly change to development patterns that allow us to maintain beaches.“Beaches are just one piece of the Golden State’s sea-level-rise picture. Much of the coast faces damage without added protections. Higher waters threaten hundreds of miles of roads, railways, harbors, airports, power plants, sewage treatment facilities, and thousands of businesses and homes, the state’s Natural Resources Agency said in April as the California Ocean Protection Council (OPC) received a report detailing dangers ahead.The Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach sit at sea level. The two combined take in more than 40 percent of U.S. imports, said Bill Patzert, climatologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The biggest part of California’s freshwater system, the San Francisco Bay Delta, also will feel the effects of higher oceans. It has 900 miles of levees and dikes, infrastructure worth billions of dollars, he said.
The state is preparing at multiple levels, though many of the steps are advisory only. The OPC, along with the California Energy Commission and Gov. Jerry Brown’s (D) Office of Planning and Research, are formulating guidance for state and local officials, based on that sea-level rise report received in April. It’s an update to a 2013 analysis, incorporating newer science. The guidance expected early next year will be nonbinding.
The state’s 2014 Safeguarding California report, which is also undergoing an update, contains climate adaptation strategies in several categories, including sea-level rise. It’s limited to recommending “current and needed actions state government should take to build climate change resiliency.”
….If West Antarctica’s sheet melts quickly, it would wallop California with greater sea-level rise than the world average, the OPC report said. That’s due to a kind of gravitational effect to ocean currents and the way the Earth rotates, Fricker said. Three feet of sea-level rise coming from Antarctica would mean it’s 4 feet higher in California, she said.
Groundwater near the surface also threatens California beach cities, said Barnard with USGS. As sea levels climb, “that water table’s going to keep rising.”
Low-lying areas near the beach, where the water table is close to the surface, will flood during high tide. It’s what’s happening now in Miami, he said. Areas of Southern California most likely to be hit include parts of Huntington Beach, Newport Beach and Seal Beach in Orange County, and Mission Beach and Del Mar in San Diego.
If the groundwater table rises 2 to 4 feet, Barnard said, “those are going to be areas that are effectively going to be turned into swamps. Even though you might have a wall protecting the water from coming over the top of the beach, there’s a lot of areas that are going to be vulnerable to this groundwater inundation.”
…California beaches bring in big money. The ocean and coast contributed $44.2 billion to the state’s gross domestic product and more than 500,000 jobs in 2013, the latest year available, the state said in its climate adaptation plan, Safeguarding California.
To replenish eroding beaches, many cities and counties have spent many millions of dollars on sand replenishment. That solution might not work long term, Cavalieri said. “It’s going to become more and more expensive,” she said, “and it’s not clear whether there’s enough sand. You have to have more and more sand. Where would it come from?”
Right now, it’s often dredged from harbors, she said. There are ecological impacts, she added, such as the need to match grain size so creatures using the sand aren’t suffocated….
….Assemblyman Stone has offered a measure on sea walls, A.B. 1129. It would put into law the coastal commission’s current practice on sea walls, allowing homes built before 1977 to install barriers. Homes developed after that can apply for a sea wall permit but aren’t guaranteed to get one.
The bill also would give the commission authority to fine people who put up sea walls without a permit, he said, or who obtained only an emergency permit. The latter requires people to go back and secure a permanent permission. Stone said there are about 140 sea walls that fall into those categories.
“Everywhere we armor as the seas rise means that we’ve lost that for public access,” Stone said. “We need to make sure that we have beaches.”
Researchers analyze 38 climate models and project California will get on average 12 percent more precipitation through 2100
warming in the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean sea surface temperatures, an area about 2,500 miles east of the international date line, is the main reason for the predicted increase in precipitation levels.
The warming sea surface temperatures encourage a southeastward shift of the jet stream, which helps steer more rain-producing mid-latitude cyclones toward California.
Under business-as-usual greenhouse gas emissions, climate models predict California will get warmer during the rest of the century and most also predict the state will get drier. But, new research published in Nature Communications predicts California will actually get wetter. The scientists from the University of California, Riverside predict the state will get an average of 12 percent more precipitation through the end of this century, compared to the last 20 years of last century.
Scientists at the University of California, Riverside predict California will get an average of 12 percent more precipitation through the end of this century, compared to the last 20 years of last century. Credit: UC Riverside Strategic Communications
….They also found the winter months of December, January and February, when California traditionally gets the bulk of its precipitation, would account for much of the overall increase in precipitation. During those three months, precipitation levels would increase 31.6 percent in northern California, 39.2 percent in central California and 10.6 percent in southern California. All these percentages are in comparison to data from the Global Precipitation Climatology Project observed between 1979 and 1999…
…They found that warming in the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean sea surface temperatures, an area about 2,500 miles east of the international date line, is the main reason for the predicted increase in precipitation levels.
The warming sea surface temperatures encourage a southeastward shift of the jet stream, which helps steer more rain-producing mid-latitude cyclones toward California. “Essentially, this mechanism is similar to what we in California expect during an El Nino year,” Allen said. “Ultimately, what I am arguing is El Nino-like years are going to become more the norm in California.” But, Allen cautions that prediction of an El Nino-like year is no guarantee of a more wet winter in California. The 2015-16 winter was an example of that. Many other climatic factors must be considered….
….”Most previous research emphasized uncertainty with regards to future precipitation levels in California, but the overall thought was California would become drier with continued climate change,” said Robert Allen, an associate professor at UC Riverside and one of the authors of the paper. “We found the opposite, which is quite surprising.”
Robert J. Allen, Rainer Luptowitz. El Niño-like teleconnection increases California precipitation in response to warming. Nature Communications, 2017; 8: 16055 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms16055
As drought and water shortages become California’s new normal, more and more of the water that washes down drains and flushes down toilets is being cleaned and recycled for outdoor irrigation. But some public officials, taking cues from countries where water scarcity is a fact of life, want to take it further and make treated wastewater available for much more — even drinking. “This is a potential new source of water for California,” said former Assemblyman Rich Gordon. “We need to find water where we can.”
….Water recycling is more the norm in countries like Singapore, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Australia, which have long had water shortages. Israel reclaims about 80 percent of its wastewater, while Singapore reclaims almost 100 percent. The reclaimed water is extensively used to irrigate agricultural lands and recharge aquifers in Israel, while most of Singapore’s water is used for industrial purposes.
….To address the public perception issue, former Assemblyman Gordon was able to pass Assembly Bill 2022 last year. It enables water agencies in the state to distribute bottles of advanced purified recycled water for educational purposes….
….Common sense dictates that we build water reserves during rainy years that will carry us through the lean years. While dams have been the reserve strategy in the past, recent experience has shown they have limitations…..UC Merced scientist Mohammad Safeeq has pointed to groundwater storage as a viable option, noting that California has enough unused groundwater storage capacity to hold 850 to 1,300 million-acre feet of water. This dwarfs the state’s current surface water storage capacity of 42 million-acre feet….
…Fortunately, …are currently researching and mapping areas with good recharge potential – areas with soil types that allow water to penetrate accompanied by a geologic makeup under the soil that filters and sends water to the aquifer.
Once special recharge sites are identified, we need to preserve or restore them. Here, progress is being made in both urban and in rural areas. For example, Santa Cruz and Butte Counties both have general plan language protecting important recharge sites from development.
…To get where we need to go, multi-benefit groundwater recharge projects must expand in number and scale. …working together, they can assure the ultimate success of California’s new Sustainable Groundwater Management Act….