Billionaire Energy Speculator Tom Steyer Bankrolls Arizona Initiative That Would Close America's Single Largest Source of Clean Energy

Billionaire Energy Speculator Tom Steyer Bankrolls Arizona Initiative That Would Close America's Single Largest Source of Clean Energy

Tom Steyer, a billionaire energy speculator, is bank-rolling an Arizona ballot initiative that would prematurely close the state’s sole nuclear plant — which is also America’s largest single source of clean energy — and replace it with fossil fuels.

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California in Danger: Why the Dream is Dying and How We Can Save It

California in Danger: Why the Dream is Dying and How We Can Save It

California today is frequently held up as a progressive model — but is it? California’s high cost of living is a major factor behind the state having the country’s highest rate of poverty and inequality. When the cost of living is taken into account, California still spends less on K-12 education than all but four other states.  In truth, California is neither progressive nor a model for other states. What’s behind California’s high cost of living are tax, regulatory, and other policies that are regressive and parasitical. California has routinely reformed its government in the past and must do so again today. This begins with a vision of a high-productivity and high-wage economy.

— Curb corruption with a New Sunshine Act that requires transparency into government contracting, permitting, regulating and other activities, and break up the corrupt California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC);

— Build abundant housing by up-zoning all cities and suburbs to allow modestly taller buildings, and by closing the loophole in the state’s most important environmental law (CEQA) that allows interest groups to file expensive and frivolous lawsuits anonymously and repeatedly;

Create high-paying jobs in advanced manufacturing, biotech, and innovative agriculture by leveraging the state's research universities and community colleges in partnership with new and modernized industries and capturing scale-ups from R&D;

— End poverty by raising the minimum wage, embracing automation, including the autonomous vehicle revolution, and mandating high school and college apprenticeship partnerships with advanced manufacturing and other industries;

— Personalize and modernize education by establishing a 9-to-5 school day that results in the elimination of homework for students, and of schoolwork for teachers; an incremental lengthening of the school year; and unleashing the special talents of all students through digital instruction and teacher tutoring;

— Make property taxes fair and sustainable by empowering a representative “citizens jury” to undergo a year-long evidence-based deliberation that culminates in an amendment to California’s constitution;

— Establish and enforce the principle of universal worker rights for all social classes by demanding the federal government create a path to citizenship for a labor force lacking political rights and power; reforming public pension obligations; and making pension contributions the responsibility of future public employees.

This plan can unify workers, employers, and taxpayers. Workers will benefit from higher wages and cheaper housing. Employers benefit from being able to grow their high-wage and high skill business in California. And Baby Boomer homeowners will benefit from the creation of housing their children and grandchildren can afford.  This coalition should be enough to overcome well-funded interest groups. School teachers, principals, and parents will benefit from a modernized school day and year, higher pay, and better outcomes. The labor unions whose members lack housing they can afford greatly outnumber the small number of unions opposing CEQA reform. And pro-density environmentalists are younger and growing in power over anti-development NIMBYs.

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Electricity prices in California rose three times more in 2017 than they did in the rest of the United States

Electricity prices in California rose three times more in 2017 than they did in the rest of the United States

Between 2016 and 2017, California’s electricity prices rose three times faster than they did in the rest of the United States, according to a new analysis by Environmental Progress.

The increases came despite 2017 having the highest output of hydroelectricity — the state’s cheapest source of electricity — since 2011.

Electricity prices in the rest of the United States outside California rose two percent, the same as the rate of inflation. 

Between 2011 and 2017, California’s electricity prices rose five times faster than they did nationally. Today, Californians pay 60 percent more, on average, than the rest of the nation, for resident, commercial and industrial electricity. 

Economists agree that “the dominant policy driver in the electricity sector [in California] has unquestionably been a focus on developing renewable sources of electricity generation.” 

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Jerry Brown's Secret War on Clean Energy

Jerry Brown's Secret War on Clean Energy

Since he was elected in 2010, Gov. Jerry Brown has gained an international reputation as a climate leader. He has spoken at the Vatican, at U.N. climate talks, and promoted California’s policies in China. Journalists routinely praise Brown for reducing emissions by expanding clean energy.

But is Brown’s climate reputation deserved?

A new, two-year investigation by Environmental Progress concludes that no American has killed more zero-emissions energy than Gov. Jerry Brown — and in ways that sometimes benefited his own family financially.

We publish this story on the day the Brown-controlled California Public Utilities Commission has voted to kill Diablo Canyon, California’s largest single source of clean energy, and the state’s last nuclear plant.

They did so despite being under federal and state criminal investigation relating to the closure of yet another nuclear plant, San Onofre, in 2013.

What makes this corruption story matter is that it resulted in rising emissions and electricity costs.

Had the Brown administration’s repeated self-dealing resulted in lower emissions and cheaper energy, this would just be the story of yet another crooked family’s political dynasty.

What makes EP’s investigation even more significant is the crucial role Brown played in legitimizing anti-nuclear ideology, and creating the anti-nuclear movement — one which has replaced nuclear plants with fossil fuels in Germany, Vermont, Japan, Taiwan, and other nations around the world.  

The story begins in the 1960s with the construction of Diablo Canyon. The goal of the state’s electric utilities was, at the time, to reduce dependence on coal, oil and natural gas, which were expensive and dirty.

But the same year the Sierra Club endorsed the building of Diablo Canyon, Brown’s family came into extraordinary oil wealth — wealth that depended on maintaining the state’s dependence on imported foreign oil.

On taking power in 1975, Brown and his allies aggressively wielded power in ways that directly benefited Brown’s family, including by killing nuclear power plants.  

All of the evidence and sources we cite come from credible newspaper, historical, archival, and court evidence, and none of the facts we present have been, to our knowledge, contested by any of the parties involved.

While little of the evidence we present is new — and most of it is, in fact, decades old — EP has presented comprehensive evidence that the war on nuclear energy has a strong financial component.

We are not suggesting that financial motives alone explain the anti-nuclear movement, but the heavy and sustained involvement of Gov. Brown and others with a direct financial interest in killing the main competitor to petroleum and natural gas can no longer be ignored as a key factor to its rise and continuing power.

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Environmental Progress Urges US Justice Department Action Against Corrupt California Public Utility Commission

Environmental Progress Urges US Justice Department Action Against Corrupt California Public Utility Commission

Environmental Progress has requested the U.S. Department of Justice to take over from the California Department of Justice the investigation of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for possible criminal activities relating to the closure of San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS).

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The Power to Decarbonize

The Power to Decarbonize

This report was born from an ongoing effort by the staff and research fellows of Environmental Progress and other researchers to understand the fastest way to decarbonize national economies (i.e., reduce emissions per unit of gross domestic product) in order to mitigate anthropogenic climate change.

We publish it to fill a gap in the scientific literature and the regularly issued reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which are overwhelmingly focused on modeling future scenarios with little regard for real-world historical trends.

We are more than ever of the view that a future-facing climate policy must be informed by backward-facing energy analysis. The attention given by energy analysts, policymakers, and the IPCC to scenarios ungrounded from history is wildly disproportionate to the attention given to the real world experience of deploying clean energy technologies and their impact, or lack thereof, on carbon intensity and emissions.

Given what’s at stake, this constitutes a grave error. Those who insist on ignoring the past, to modify Santayana, should not be allowed to force the rest of us to repeat it.

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Energy Secretary Perry’s Electric Resiliency Rule Could Be a Big Win for Nuclear and the Climate. Here’s Why

Energy Secretary Perry’s Electric Resiliency Rule Could Be a Big Win for Nuclear and the Climate. Here’s Why

This morning Energy Secretary Rick Perry proposed that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issue a rule requiring payments to nuclear and coal power plants to maintain a resilient electrical grid.

The Trump administration can’t say it, but Environmental Progress can: the rule could be a huge win for the climate.

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