SACRAMENTO - California Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), author of SB 350, provided the following statement in advance of the listening session the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) being held this morning in San Francisco on its proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan:
Thank you for giving Californians an opportunity to voice our fierce opposition to the Trump Environmental Protection Agency’s shortsighted and cynical decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan.
This decision puts the short-term profits of coal executives above the public’s interest in clean air and the long-term health of our planet; It’s not about coal jobs, it’s about coal profits for the President’s political donors.
It also betrays the federal government’s legal obligation to reduce carbon pollution, at a time when we’re already seeing the impacts of climate change across the nation.
2017 tied the record for the most billion-dollar disasters in a year – including the record wildfires that ravaged California, and the hurricanes that devastated Texas and Puerto Rico -- and it smashed the previous record for total estimated costs with cumulative damages of more than $306 billion dollars. That’s almost $100 billion more than any prior year on record. And by the way, nearly one million Americans in Puerto Rico still lack power, five months after Hurricane Maria.
Americans are already paying the price for our inaction on climate change –hundreds of billions more than even the most dramatic cost estimates for the Clean Power Plan.So don’t believe for one second that dismantling the Clean Power Plan is about jobs or our economy. It’s not.
It’s just political favoritism -- the President and this so-called Environmental Protection Agency are picking losers at our expense. Record numbers of Americans – over 70 percent – say they prefer clean energy over oil, gas, or coal. But it’s not just public opinion that favors clean energy. Markets do too.
Clean, renewable energy sources like wind and solar are out-competing coal, nuclear, and even natural gas across much of the country. And unlike dirty fossil fuels, clean energy prices are falling rapidly, and expected to keep falling.
Over the last seven years, the nationwide price trend for wind is down 66%, and solar is down 85%. California – the sixth largest economy in the world – is on track to reach 50 percent renewable energy by 2020.
And despite all of the doomsday rhetoric from critics, we spend less on energy than the vast majority of Americans.
In fact, on average, California households spend about $1000 less per year on energy than the folks in Oklahoma, Mr. Pruitt’s home state. And we spend less than half of what the average household in Louisiana, Wyoming or North Dakota spends according to federal statistics.
Meanwhile, we’ve created over 500 thousand high-wage clean energy jobs in every corner of our state – There are ten times more clean energy jobs in California alone than there are coal jobs in the entire nation.
And, thanks in part to our strong clean air and climate laws, California dominates clean energy venture capital investment. That’s about $10 billion per year invested right here in California because we act on climate.
We can’t afford to forfeit our global leadership on clean energy to China. The future will belong to those that master these technologies first -- and that should be the United States of America.
Instead of propping up dying industries that poison our children and threaten the planet – we should be focusing on retraining coal workers and clean energy is a great place to start.
Finally, the idea that coal is somehow critical to national security is absurd. The U.S. military is leading the charge to a clean energy future because they understand that climate change is a threat to America’s national security – the U.S. Department of Defense calls climate change a “threat multiplier,” because it intensifies drought, famine, disease and social conflict – creating new populations of refugees and destabilizing entire regions of the world.
Last month, the Pentagon released an analysis showing that half of all American military installations around the world are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Whether it’s sea-level rise, storm surge and flooding, or drought, wildfire and extreme heat – our strategic capabilities are directly threatened by the extreme weather events that are rapidly becoming the new normal.
We can’t afford to ignore these risks any longer.
It’s time for the President to put America’s future first and get serious about confronting climate change.