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California Passes Law To Curb Greenhouse Gases

Here's the big news out of California, where the state legislature has just passed a bill, certain to be signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, pledging to cut the state's greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. From Marketwatch:
The California Assembly on Thursday approved, as expected, a bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state to 1990 levels by 2020.
The state Senate earlier in the day approved the measure, which was forged by a compromise reached Wednesday between the legislature's Democratic Party leadership and Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Only one Republican assemblymember, Shirley Horton of San Diego, voted for the measure, which passed 46-31. Not one Republican in the state Senate voted for Assembly Bill 32, which was sponsored by Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles.

"Today, we are taking a stand to curb this crisis. We have the will, ability and solutions to slow global warming and encourage technology that can help the rest of the world," Nunez said after the bill passed.
But that isn't all that took place in Sacramento:
In a separate but related bill approved Thursday, the state is moving to ban new long-term contracts for power supplies from coal-fired plants, at least until such plants operate with equipment still under development to control carbon dioxide. Though California doesn't have any coal-fired power plants, it gets about 20% of its electricity from such plants located in other western states. The second bill, Senate Bill 1368, was passed by the legislature Thursday, and it too is expected to be signed into law by Schwarzenegger.
So here's what we have: California wants to throttle back emissions while curbing the use of coal, source of 20% of the state's electricity. Also remember that California has a moritorium on new nuclear build.

What does it all add up to? From the Los Angeles Times:
But executives in industries that consume large amounts of electricity fear that putting caps on greenhouse gas emissions only in California could drive employers and jobs across state lines. They say the state's electricity prices, already among the highest in the nation, could soar as utilities stop using electricity generated from cheap coal and increase their reliance on costly natural gas.
More, here. As we know, North American natural gas reserves are running down, which means that over the long haul California will have to increase its reliance on foreign sources of the fuel -- and going forward that means importing liquified natural gas from countries like Russia and Iran. That is, if the state can actually decide where it might be able to build an LNG terminal.

What the state is doing here is kicking two legs out from under a three-legged stool, while still expecting to be able to keep their balance. Can the state manage it? We'll find out, but in the meantime, if California wants to add some stability to its electric generation portfolio without emitting additional greenhouse gases, it's time to reconsider nuclear energy. If they don't, the state is headed down a road paved with skyrocketing electricity rates, power supply disruptions and long-term depenence on sources of natural gas that don't have the state's or the nation's best interests at heart.

In the meantime, it looks like it's time to revisit this post from January.

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Comments

Doug said…
This is hilarious, is it not? I mean it's like the "no solutions" crowd is in charge here in the golden state. So let's see, no coal, no nukes, no LNG. You forgot to mention dams are being torn down because of environmental concerns. I guess we will be calling the bluff of the environmental lobbies on solar and wind power. I'm sure it all sounds wonderful to the majority of people who are uninformed on energy matters. But just wait until the bills for renewable electricity start to roll in, and speaking of rolling, just wait until the rolling blackouts start, just wait until there are off-peak power shortages because the sun isn't shining. I'm afraid it will have to get bad before people wake up to the reality and throw the bums out. This is going to backfire badly on the so-called greens, who haven't done their homework on renewables.
Brian Mays said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Brian Mays said…
"Wow, man ... like ... lets like turn this whole state into one big commune, man ... We don't need electricity. We can make hammocks and sell tofu, man."

What are they smoking over there in California?
bert said…
No solutions, did you say?

In the business section of today’s New York Times, reporting on the California plan, I read:

“Given a lack of national policy toward global warming, local and state authorities are increasingly taking the matter into their own hands … California has a long tradition of leading the way in environmental regulations that in time are adopted by other states and cities across the country. The federal Clean Air Act of 1970, for example, originated in efforts starting in the 1960’s to limit smog …”

It sounds to me like the no solutions crowd is the one in Washington.

The article also reports that the CEO of PG&E, the parent of one of the nation’s largest utilities, supported the plan because of the overwhelming evidence that greenhouse gases are disrupting the environment. No doubt he is “uninformed on energy matters”.

Wow, man.
Starvid, Sweden said…
Too little, too late.

I mean 1990 levels in 2020? What are they smoking?! It should be 1920 levels in 2020!

Look, the average American emits 19 tons of CO2 per year. The average Frenchman or Swede emits 6 tons per year.

Last time I checked, none of those countries had lost all their heavy industry. As a matter of fact, they have the cheapest power in Europe.

This just might have something to do with them having 1000 MW nuclear power per 1 million citizens.

As long as the Californians refuse to build nukes, they really should build lots of offshore wind. Sure it's a bit expensive due to the massive capital costs, but they can be significantly slashed by implementing state loan guaranties.

And remember: no power is more expensive than no power.
Brian Mays said…
Make that no sensible solutions.

Until you can tell me where the electricity is going to come from, you haven't provided a solution.

If you say rely on more and more natural gas -- well -- then tell me where California will build a LNG terminal to get the stuff. Besides, natural gas still produces those pesky greenhouse gases. No real solution there.

By the way, PG&E has a nuclear plant which accounts for almost a third of their generation portfolio. Add in their hydro generation and the result is that fossil fuels account for only about 5% of their electricity. Wow, man ... it's no wonder that PG&E's CEO backs that plan. It's good business for them. It's not necessarily good for California's rate payers, however.
Rob said…
As with the demand for zero-emission (at the tailpipe, the idjits) vehicles that California legislators came up with, you'll see this roll backwards once people realize what the real consequences are.
GingerMary said…
I am always amazed at how people in the states recycle, keep an eye on the greenhouse gases and then, somewhere in the third world and far east someone is driving a car that emits more smoke than the whole California can produce, dumps his factory waste in the ocean and don't care a @#$@#. I am not saying it's not a good start. I am just saying that perhaps it should be a world effort. Perhaps, instead of making life more expensive or more miserable for people in California, use the money to look at the picture as a whole.
Michael Stuart said…
First off, I have to ask where the statement "coal is responsible for 20% of California's electricity" comes from? I've heard it before, and the state data from http://www.eia.doe.gov doesn't support it.

Regardless of where that comes from (or even if somebody made it up), it doesn't take anything away from critique of California's energy "solutions."

While in California earlier this year conducting a workshop at Diablo Canyon, I spoke to several of the "environmentalists" at an NRC meeting. They claim that California's future electrical needs can be met by conservation.
That's like saying I can meet my daily nutrtional needs through dieting.

As for renewables, the state fares extremely well with 24% of their electrical needs being generated by wind, solar, hydro, and biomass. However, this still leaves 62% of the state's electricity being generated by fossil and nuclear.

Also, according to the Energy Information Administration, roughly half of the state's energy consumption is in the form of petroleum used for transportation. If just 20% of this demand is replaced by electrical sources, then this would translate into approximately 20% increase in electrical supply needs. Even if California experiences zero growth (which might just be a realistic scenario), the expectation that electrical demands will stay stable doesn't make good sense.

And further, if nuclear and fossil generation are unacceptable to Californians, exactly how do they propose to seriously reduce their current fossil fuel dependency AND meet the inevitable increases in state energy demands? Could an informed Californian please help us understand this?
Brian Mays said…
Perhaps the California Greens are thinking what Phil Huckleberry and the Illinois Greens are thinking: growing and burning hemp. All problems solved. Who needs nukes?

"We are now armed with mighty joint!"
kah-pet said…
Isn't it just like people to throw personal insults at others when they really don't have the real information.

I challenge anyone out there to give me the calculations for storing and completely isolating from the environment both high-level and low-level radioactive waste for at least the half-life of plutonium; 250,000 years. AND I want to see the actual cost figures as well as the energy usage figures of storing the waste for that amount of time.

One other thing - what is the morality of using a technology that for every day of power production leaves an extremely long-lived and dangerous poison for the next over 800 generations to have to deal with.

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