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.Read More
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.Read More
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.”Read More
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.Read More
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).Read More
Over the last two years, Elon Musk has been lionized as a climate hero for creating a high-performance electric car (Tesla) and a fast-growing solar panel company (Solar City).
Now, Tesla, which absorbed Solar City last year, has come out in favor of *closing* Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, California's largest source of clean energy.
Imagine the outcry if a nuclear energy company tried not just to kill solar subsidies but actually *remove* Solar City panels from rooftops in order to build more nuclear plants.Read More
Testimony by Michael Shellenberger, Founder and President, Environmental Progress.
December 4, 2017
Mr. Chairperson and members of the committee: thank you for accepting my testimony.
As background, I am a Time Magazine “Hero of the Environment,” Green Book Award-winner, and president of Environmental Progress, an independent nonprofit organization funded entirely by individuals and philanthropic foundations.
I am here today because I am very concerned by the threat that nuclear plant closures pose to the environment, public health, and jobs.
I was against nuclear energy for most of my life and only changed my mind after confronting key facts about the limitations of renewables.
New Jersey gets electricity from three nuclear plants. If they close, emissions in New Jersey will rise the equivalent of adding 2.7 million cars to the road. Children, the sick, and the elderly suffering from asthma or respiratory diseases will pay the highest price.
The New York-Newark region is already among the 25th most polluted cities in America in ozone and particulate matter. The American Lung Association this year gave 11 New Jersey counties an “F” grade for ozone pollution.
If you allow your nuclear plants to close, electricity prices will rise and high-skill, high-paying jobs will be lost.
My home state of California stands as a stark warning. Our electricity prices have risen from 13 cents to 18 cents per kilowatt hour since 2011. By contrast, electricity rates nationally rose from just 10 to 11 cents during the same period.
High electricity prices have driven manufacturers out of California and we today have the highest poverty rate in the country, according to the US Census Bureau.
What happened to California? It’s simple: we closed one of our two nuclear plants, which generate power at a cost of about 5.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, and increased the amount of electricity we receive from natural gas, solar, and wind.
The best available peer-reviewed economic research finds that the value of wind drops 40 percent once it becomes 30 percent of electricity and the value of solar drops by half when it gets to just 15 percent.
What about the battery revolution we’ve heard so much about? There isn’t one. As a result, Californians have to pay Arizona to take our unneeded solar electricity so it doesn’t blow-out our grid.
What about carbon emissions? They rose in California by 11 million metric tonnes while they declined 174 million metric tonnes in the U.S. as a whole.
The share of New Jersey’s electricity from natural gas already doubled since 2010, and last year provided 56 percent of your electricity last year. Nuclear provided 39 percent of your electricity last year and is the critical bulwark against over-dependence on natural gas.
Natural gas is cheap now, but if it becomes 90 percent of your electricity you can expect prices to spike. Once a nuclear plant is closed it’s closed forever. You can’t just go start it up again once natural gas prices rise.
I encourage you to join New York and Illinois in taking sensible measures to safeguard public health, jobs, and consumers by ensuring the continued operation of your nuclear plants. Thank you.
Like a lot of kids born in the early 1970s, I had the good fortune to be raised by hippies. One of my childhood heroes was Stewart Brand. Stewart is not only one of the original hippies, he’s also one of the first modern environmentalists of the 1960s and 70s. As a young boy, one of my favorite memories is playing cooperative games that Stewart Brand invented as an antidote to the Vietnam War.
I started my environmental career as an anti-nuclear activist and I quickly got involved in advocating for renewable energy. In the early part of this century I helped to start a labor union and environmentalist alliance called the Apollo Alliance and we pushed for a big investment in clean energy: solar, wind, electric cars.
Then, Stewart Brand came out in 2005 and said we should rethink nuclear power.Read More
When the utility Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) announced last summer that it would close California’s last nuclear power plant, the mainstream news media mostly applauded.
The New York Times gave a loud endorsement of the decision. “Good news from Diablo Canyon,” wrote the paper’s Editorial Board. Diablo’s closure would, “serve as a positive example for other states and nations that may in time need to replace aging nuclear plants without increasing carbon emissions.”
But it's now clear that PG&E will take no action to ensure California’s carbon emissions don’t spike when Diablo closes, and they’re telling us loud and clear. The utility’s position is simple: all of Diablo’s emissions-free energy will be replaced by fossil.
It will be all of us who lose if PG&E closes Diablo. But the truth will find a way, and so will Environmental Progress, Mothers for Nuclear, and Californians for Green Nuclear Power as we fight this injustice and drag the government and PG&E’s dirty hands into the light.Read More