Sunday, January 26

Submission: California assembly members must promote clean energy, support SB 100

As the heat wave making its way through California intensifies, leading to power outages and heightened risks of wildfires, we’re reminded of the dangers of climate change and the need to transition away from fossil fuels.

California has the biggest opportunity in decades to make this shift. Right now, a bill to ensure that California generates 100 percent of its electricity from clean energy sources by 2045 is moving through the state legislature. I urge Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, who represents the UCLA community in the California Legislature, to vote yes for a clean-energy future.

With the federal government rolling back national environmental regulations, it is imperative California steps up as the nation’s leader in sustainability policies. Climate change threatens to cause food shortages from droughts, coastal flooding from increased sea levels and severe damages to communities from increasingly devastating natural disasters. We must do everything in our power to prevent this fate.

Senate Bill 100 does this. The bill accelerates California’s current renewable energy goal of 50 percent by 2030 to 50 percent by 2026 and 60 percent by 2030. It adds a goal of 100 percent clean, zero-carbon, renewable electricity by 2045. The bill also requires that a joint committee write reports every two years, starting in 2019, explaining the progress toward and barriers to our renewable energy goals.

A local push for this legislation has already started. In the spring, the California Public Interest Research Group students ran their pledge drive around the bill, generating petitions and monetary resources in support of SB 100. They have been gathering student leader signatures across the state to build support, as well as working in a large coalition of environmental organizations to put constant pressure on our lawmakers to support the legislation. In addition, the Los Angeles City Council also officially came out in support of this bill through a resolution passed by Councilman Paul Koretz.

On his website, Ridley-Thomas notes his goals of “advancing the deployment of clean energy” and improving the health of Angelenos. Yet, Ridley-Thomas has not formally come out in support of SB 100, despite it presenting the opportunity to fulfill these promises.

A statewide, 100 percent renewable energy goal is completely attainable. The drop of solar energy costs make solar panels one of the cheapest ways of producing energy. In fact, millions of Californians already live in cities pledged to produce 100 percent renewable electricity, support the Paris climate accords or plan for massive carbon emission cuts.

Protecting air and water quality represents a key step to preserving the health of Los Angeles residents. Burning fossil fuels significantly pollutes our air, and spills from oil and fracking industries soil our water. With the cost of renewable energy continuously dropping, clean energy is a healthy and economically responsible alternative to the poisonous resources we currently utilize.

Unfortunately, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1245 recently began pushing measures that would stifle efforts to achieve 100 percent renewable electricity.

IBEW Local 1245 is pushing to amend the bill to make distributive generation, or producing energy on site as opposed to at a central power plant, more difficult. Distributive generation methods, such as placing solar panels on roofs or using small wind turbines, are critical to meeting California’s renewable energy goals. The proposed amendments would restrict job growth in promising industries such as domestic solar panel manufacturing and installation, and would increase the complexities, inefficiencies and costs associated with renewable energy.

To promote a livable future for all Californians and fulfill his promises to deliver a healthy and sustainable community, Ridley-Thomas needs to stand up for SB 100 and urge this bill be passed without poison-pill amendments targeting distributive generation. We Californians need to make a statement that we care about our role as environmental leaders who are willing to work to preserve our future.

Kennerk is a third-year political science student and chair of UCLA’s chapter of CALPIRG.

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