Tell CalPERS to divest from fossil fuels

By Sara Theiss

Are you a CalPERS member or beneficiary? A California taxpayer? Someone who cares about the future of our planet? If so, please join Fossil Free California in Sacramento on March 18, 2019, when we’ll tell the Board of Directors of the CalPERS pension plan, the largest pension plan in the U.S., to divest from fossil fuels! On that day, the CalPERS board will meet to update its sustainable investing program – and we will be there to hold them accountable, for CalPERS beneficiaries, California taxpayers, and future generations.

Anyone can can speak for up to three minutes during the public comment period. See the list below of some of the many reasons for divestment. While the CalPERS board has a fiduciary duty to act on behalf of its beneficiaries, as public officials they also have a responsibility to act in the best interest of all Californians.

Please join us at 9 AM on Monday March 18, at the CalPERS Auditorium, Lincoln Plaza North, 400 Q Street, Sacramento, CA 95811. The Board needs to hear a broad spectrum of voices, including yours.

To join us on March 18, or for more information, including about car pools, please contact STheiss@ffca.org

Why should CalPERS divest?

Fossil Free California is a nonprofit organization that works to end financial support for climate-damaging fossil fuel. Graphic © Fossil Free California 

Sara Theiss decided to focus on climate issues after retiring from the California Office of the State Public Defender in 2017, and now volunteers with Fossil Free California (FFCA) to end financial support for the fossil fuel industry. She is a CalPERS retiree and leads FFCA’s campaign on CalPERS divestment.

Support the Green New Deal

Protecting Our Future
Graphic © Elected Officials to Protect America

By Anne Spevack

Deadline: right now – Support for the Green New Deal (GND) keeps growing! At the COP24 UN Climate Talks in Katowice, Poland, over 300 state and local elected officials from the U.S. signed a letter calling for a GND approach to phase out fossil fuel use. The letter calls for jurisdictions in the U.S. to take steps to produce clean and renewable energy; refuse permits for new oil, coal, and gas projects; and reduce subsidies for fossil fuels. The letter also recognizes that a concerted national effort is needed, and calls for a national GND plan to guide investment in renewable energies and move our economy away from fossil fuels.

East Bay signatories to the letter include Berkeley and Richmond mayors Jesse Arreguin and Tom Butt, and City Council members from Berkeley, El Cerrito, Emeryville, Fremont, Hayward, Oakland, Richmond, and San Leandro. Missing: mayors from every other East Bay city, many City Council members, and all our state senators and assembly members. Check to see whether your elected officials are on the letter, and if not, tell them to sign on! Don’t know who they are or how to contact them? Find them using this handy search tool.

What to say:

My name is ____, my zip code is _____, and I’m a Member of Indivisible East Bay. I am deeply concerned about the growing hazards that climate change is creating in our communities, most recently the devastating wildfires and worsening droughts. Thank you for helping protect our local communities and environment. But there is only so much our local communities can do. We need a national plan. Please sign on to the letter from Elected Officials to Protect America at uselectedofficials.org and join the hundreds of state and local representatives calling for a Green New Deal to protect our environment and our economy.

What else you can do:

Read our recent article for background info on the Green New Deal and to learn how you can help, including by asking your Members of Congress to publicly support the proposal and to pressure House leadership to ensure it is a priority in the new congressional session.

Anne Spevack is an expert on transportation and infrastructure issues with a passion for the environment, and is rapidly becoming an expert in the Green New Deal.

ISO Happy Ending: Comment by 10/31 on Emissions Standards for Power Plants

Once upon a time, there was an administration that protected its people from dangerous modern fire-breathing dragons. Then in August 2018, the big bad wolf-ogre-gremlin-current administration announced plans to undo Obama rules limiting harmful emissions from fossil fuel power plants. The plot: to repeal the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, and put in its place a wicked changeling, a watered down alternative dubbed the Affordable Clean Energy rule.

But as in all good stories, there’s time for a dramatic rescue! The law requires that the public can comment on this proposed change until Oct 31, 2018.

How to comment

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will accept comment on the proposed Affordable Clean Energy rule through October 31, 2018.  Comments should be identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2017-0355 and may be submitted by one of the following methods.

Some things you can say in your comments:

  • The bottom line: oppose repealing the Clean Power Plan (CPP) and replacing it with the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule, because it’s imperative to reduce fossil fuel emissions and the ACE is much weaker than the CPP.
  • EPA evidence in the record shows the CPP would prevent 3,600 premature deaths, 90,000 asthma attacks in children, and 1,700 heart attacks each year
  • The EPA’s own calculations show that the proposed ACE would result in an additional 1,400 deaths and 48,000 new asthma attacks yearly compared to the CPP
  • Under the CPP the federal government sets emission targets for states, but the ACE allows states to set the targets themselves, which promotes a “race to the bottom”
  • The goal of the CPP (backed by evidence in EPA’s regulatory record) was to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 32% by 2030, compared to 2005 levels. The EPA’s own calculations indicate the proposed ACE would only reduce emissions by somewhere between 0.7 and 1.5%
  • EPA’s proposed ACE uses deceptive accounting gimmicks to artificially inflate the costs of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to minimize the health benefits of the original CPP. This means its cost-benefit analysis is flawed and unreliable
  • The Regulatory Impact Analysis shows that under every illustrative scenario EPA analyzed, the ACE would result in more CO2, SO2, and NOx than the CPP
  • The EPA’s analysis radically under-counts the deaths, illnesses, and climate damages from power plants’ soot, smog, and carbon pollution. This is contrary to sound science and economics
  • The ACE proposal drastically undercounts the real costs of climate pollution for all Americans by ignoring global impacts. Climate pollution has worldwide impacts, but the proposal counts only those impacts that are expected to occur within U.S. borders.
  • The EPA’s own estimates show that, compared to the Clean Power Plan, the ACE plan would impose up to $10.8 billion in annual net costs on Americans in 2030, when accounting for compliance costs and the loss of the CPP’s benefits for climate and public health. By contrast, the CPP was designed to save consumers hard-earned money on electric bills
  • We cannot afford further delay in confronting the threat of climate change by repealing the CPP and replacing it with the much weaker ACE. Even the current administration’s reports contain overwhelming evidence that we need to cut fossil fuel emissions, including:
    • The 11/17 Climate Science Special Report – the combined work of 13 federal agencies including the EPA – which contains overwhelming evidence that human-generated carbon emissions are the dominant cause of global warming with all of its effects on the U.S. and the world, including floods, heat waves, rising sea levels, hurricanes and storms
    • The 8/18 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) about federal fuel-efficiency standards for cars and light trucks showing that with our present rate of greenhouse gas emissions, the planet is expected to experience a disastrous warming of 7 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of this century

More info:

The Clean Power Plan (CPP) was adopted by the Obama Administration in 2015.  Under the Clean Air Act, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is legally obligated to regulate carbon dioxide from major sources in the United States. That’s why, in 2015, the EPA released its first standard aimed at cutting carbon emissions from power plants, known as the “Clean Power Plan.” The power sector is second only to the transportation sector as a source of emissions in the US.

The CPP aimed to cut emissions from the electricity sector by an estimated 32% below 2005 levels by 2030—a modest but important first step.  Cost-benefit analysis consistently showed a net economic gain from the CPP. It was adopted after a robust, years-long regulatory process in which the EPA held numerous hearings and received millions of comments.

The Trump Administration was hostile to the CPP from the beginning and solicitous of the coal industry and fossil fuel sectors generally. Trump directed the EPA to begin the process of repealing the CPP and replacing it with what EPA dubbed the “Affordable Clean Energy” (ACE) rule. That regulatory process is now pending and, as required by federal law, EPA is now accepting public comments on this proposed repeal and replace. The deadline for commenting on the proposed ACE is October 31, 2018.

YES on SB 100 – 100% clean energy for CA

Deadline – August 30, 2018

While the Current Occupant of the White House is working to Make America Oil-Friendly Again, California is working on going 100% for clean energy with SB 100-the 100 Percent Clean Energy Act. That means cleaner energy for buildings, industry and transportation without fossil fuels.

SB 100 accelerates the state’s primary renewable energy program, known as the Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS), which currently requires that 33% of the state’s electricity come from renewable resources by 2020 and 50% by 2030; we are on track and some say well ahead of schedule to meet those goals. SB 100 goes further, requiring that 60% of the state’s electricity come from eligible renewable sources by the year 2030, and that the remaining 40% of the electricity mix come from eligible renewable resources or other zero-carbon resources by 2045. The Union of Concerned Scientists believes that given progress to date, “meeting 100% of California’s electricity needs with zero-carbon resources is a bold goal, but achieving it is within reach.”

After failing to pass the Assembly in 2017, on July 3, 2018, SB 100 passed out of the Assembly Committee on Utilities and Energy and is scheduled for a vote on the Assembly floor in mid-August. The Assembly has until August 31 to pass all bills.

California has led the nation in the transition from coal to clean energy resources and has the chance with SB 100 to continue to be a leader in combating climate change, which is the single biggest threat to our health and economic stability statewide. And renewable energy has been a boon for green jobs, innovation, and investment in California. Please contact your Assemblymember to support SB 100.

Read more about SB 100.

What to say:

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to ask Assemblymember ___ to vote YES on SB 100. I support the goal of powering California with 100% clean electricity by 2045. California needs to move toward this goal as quickly as possible because global warming and extreme weather and fire are threatening the state as never before. SB 100 can help create jobs, clean our air, improve health conditions and prevent damage to our whole state. Let’s have California be a leader in taking this crucial step. Please vote YES on SB 100.

IEB is grateful to the Union of Concerned Scientists for information and material used in this article.

Photograph by Circe Denyer

Keep California Air Clean

By Christina Tarr

Deadline – October 2, 2018

Back in 2012, the Obama administration (remember them? Sniff…) set an ambitious target for emissions standards: Cars and trucks would achieve a standard of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

There are so many obvious reasons this is a good idea that it seems pointless to even mention them, but here are a few anyway:

Unfortunately, the current administration hates the environment. On August 2, 2018, the Trump Administration released its long-threatened proposal to weaken antipollution and fuel efficiency standards, revoking the 54.5 MPG goal and freezing standards at about 37 MPG after 2021. But wait, it gets worse: the 1970 Clean Air Act grants a waiver to California allowing us to set our pollution standards at a tougher level than the federal government; 13 other states now follow our lead. Currently, 40% of all car sales in the United States take place in California and the thirteen other states operating under waiver — and California’s tougher standard is now the de facto national standard. Big Oil’s Friend in the White House wants to revoke this waiver, meaning that the new, lower federal standard will be the law of the entire land. This is a direct hit at California.

Here’s a great video from Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) explaining the whole story.

What you can do:

Submit a comment at Regulations.gov:  

The Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation are taking comments on this ill-advised rollback until end of day (Eastern time) October 2, 2018; and you can write to them here.  Include these points in your comment:

  • Climate change is real. We need to reduce our use of fossil fuels.
  • The automobile industry needs a goal to work toward. It’s in no one’s interest to move the goalposts.
  • Clean air is important for public health.

Take action in California:

Governor Jerry Brown said, “California will fight this stupidity in every conceivable way possible.” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, 16 other states and the District of Columbia already sued the EPA in May in anticipation of this recent action, and now Attorney General Becerra is planning to lead 19 attorneys general in a new lawsuit against the actual proposal.

Write to Brown and Becerra and thank them for taking action to preserve our state and our nation’s clean car emissions standards:

Governor Edmund G. Brown
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814

Phone: (916) 445-2841
Fax: (916) 558-3160
Or by email

Attorney General Xavier Becerra
California Department of Justice
Attn: Public Inquiry Unit
P.O. Box 944255
Sacramento, CA 94244-2550

Phone: (800) 952-5225
Fax: (916) 323-5341
Or by email

Let your Members of Congress know your thoughts about the need for strong emission standards for automobiles, and the need for California to set its own standards. Include the same points as above:

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
  • Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 355-9041 • DC: (202) 224-3553
  • Rep. Mark DeSaulnier: (email); (510) 620-1000 • DC: (202) 225-2095
  • Rep. Barbara Lee: (email); (510) 763-0370 • DC: (202) 225-2661
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell: (email); (510) 370-3322 • DC: (202) 225-5065

 

Christina Tarr is a local librarian with an interest in birds and wild places.