New Report Documents California’s Outstanding Clean Energy Leadership

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Advocates, State Leaders Call on Washington to Follow State’s Lead

Environment California Research & Policy Center

Sacramento – The State of California has been rated a gold star for its outstanding leadership in promoting clean energy and global warming solutions, according to a report released today by Environment California Research & Policy Center.

The report, “America’s Clean Energy Stars: State Actions Leading America to a New Energy Future”, published by Environment America, the national office of Environment California, praised California officials for adopting bold policies to promote clean energy that can provide a model for the entire nation.

“California is taking action to reduce energy consumption and promote clean renewable energy,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, clean energy advocate for Environment California. “As we continue to move forward, our leaders in Washington should start dancing with the clean energy stars and pass a strong energy bill that moves America forward to a new energy future”.

In releasing the report, Environment California Research & Policy Center, along with a coalition of environmental groups and state officials, called on Congress to follow the states’ lead by passing a strong energy bill that increases renewable energy, fuel economy and energy conservation.

“The energy and global warming challenges facing America demand bold action at every level.  Here in California, we have consistently been leaders in promoting clean energy solutions,” said Mary Nichols, Chair of the California Air Resources Board. “We need to do more, but we cannot do it alone. We are counting on Washington to join us as we work together to achieve the promise of a new energy future for America.”

In developing the report, Environment America researchers looked at five areas of cutting-edge clean energy policy adopted by state governments: renewable electricity standards, the Clean Cars Program, utility energy efficiency programs, and energy efficiency standards. California is one of seven states – California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington – highlighted as “gold star” clean energy state for adopting strong policies in at least four of these areas.

“With high natural gas prices, crude oil edging up toward $100 a barrel and correspondingly high gasoline prices, family pocketbooks are being drained of their disposable income,” commented Energy Commission Vice Chair James Boyd.  “California and every state in the nation should be looking to energy efficiency strategies as the cheapest and most effective alternative and then begin actively developing renewable resources to generate electricity and fuel our vehicles.  This approach can reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and our dependency on foreign oil.  These are actions every elected official should be endorsing.”

“States have begun to move in the right direction on energy, but we must do a lot more at every level of government,” said Bill Magavern with Sierra Club-California. “Congress should pass a strong energy bill that saves oil by increasing fuel economy for cars and light trucks to at least 35 MPG and increases America’s use of clean, energy by requiring, at least 15% of our electricity to come from renewable energy and by extending federal tax credits.”

States that have adopted these five strategies are making a significant difference in addressing America’s energy challenges. Notably, nearly all the policies analyzed in the report began in California. 

·   Renewable electricity standards already adopted by 25 states and the District of Columbia would reduce global warming pollution by about 2% of current levels, the equivalent of taking more than 21 million cars off the road and would generate more than 5% of America’s current power needs. 

·   The Clean Cars Program adopted by 12 states would reduce global warming emissions from cars and light trucks by 74 million metric tons per year by 2020 – the equivalent of taking 13.6 million cars off the road and would reduce gasoline consumption by as much as Florida uses in a year.

·   Energy efficiency programs and standards.  If every state were to achieve the energy savings already achieved by California, the United States could reduce electricity consumption by 8% compared to business-as-usual levels in 2020, and avoid as much global warming pollution as taking nearly 49 million cars off the road.

·   Appliance efficiency standards adopted by 12 states since 2002 led to the federal government adopting some of these standards.  The state standards combined with the federal standards are the equivalent of taking nearly 12 million cars off the road.  And, they will save enough energy to meet about 2% of U.S. electricity consumption in 2005 or enough to power 7.4 million American homes.

·   Building energy codes.  Updated residential building codes have been adopted in 14 states and the latest commercial codes have been adopted in 17 states.  If every the federal government adopted and enforced these codes, America could reduce emissions by nearly 1%, the equivalent of taking 9 million cars off the road and could avoid the need for 32 new 400 MW power plants.

PHOTO BELOW: Environment  California’s Bernadette Del Chiaro is joined by (l to r) Sierra Club California Senior Representative Bill Magavern, CEC Commission Vice President James Boyd, and California Air Resource Board Chair Mary Nichols at release of “America’s Clean Energy Stars” report.