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The California Public Utilities Commission Upholds Climate and Air Quality Requirements

Victory: The CPUC decision requires utilities to prioritize renewable resources and transition away from fossil fuels
Solar panels in Los Angeles.

Solar panels in Los Angeles, Calif.

WangAnQi / Getty Images
April 25, 2019
San Francisco, CA —

California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA) and Sierra Club applaud the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) decision to require utilities’ integrated resource plans (IRP) to meet state climate and clean air goals, as well as to play a stronger role in directing procurement of clean energy. Throughout the IRP proceeding, CEJA and Sierra Club have advocated for the CPUC to take concrete steps consistent with California laws such as SB 100 and SB 350, which require both a phase-out of fossil fuels and reductions in air pollution that impacts disadvantaged communities. Therefore, we are glad the CPUC will help transition California away from fossil fuels and meet the state’s mandated climate goals.

“The CPUC decision today represents California’s continuing steps in the right direction to meet climate and air quality requirements and mitigate the devastating effects of climate change,” said Deborah Behles representing the California Environmental Justice Alliance. Earthjustice staff attorney, Nina Robertson, representing Sierra Club, commends the decision saying: “The CPUC makes clear that it is taking California’s climate and air quality requirements seriously.” Robertson adds, “It is important that the CPUC also commits to playing a stronger role in ensuring that, collectively, the state’s energy system will soon phase out fossil fuels.”

California must fundamentally shift its energy system away from fossil fuels to renewable and carbon-free energy. This change is critical for low-income communities of color that will be hit first and worst by climate change, and who are currently disproportionately affected by environmental issues. “The devastating consequences of climate change become more apparent each wildfire season for Californians, and it’s time for utilities to take concrete, rapid steps toward a clean energy future,” said Luis Amezcua, Senior Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club’s My Generation Campaign. “We are glad to see the Commission taking the state’s greenhouse gas reduction targets seriously with this decision. They are clearly committing to eliminate our dependence on gas and hold utilities accountable.” The Legislature has entrusted the CPUC with integrated energy planning and procurement oversight to help ensure this transition away from fossil fuels happens with the urgency necessary.

Gladys Limón, Executive Director of California Environmental Justice Alliance says, “We applaud the California Public Utilities Commission for today’s decision that requires planning to phase out natural gas plants, as well as consider and minimize air pollution that impacts disadvantaged communities. By requiring utilities to do their part, it sets up accountability mechanisms to ensure compliance with our state’s climate and air quality mandates. This decision represents a step in the right direction toward a more equitable energy system and a just transition off of fossil fuels.”

There is still much more to be done to meet our climate goals, but this decision represents a move on the right path. We appreciate the CPUC’s commitment to make sure the majority of the state meets these critical greenhouse gas and air quality requirements. This decision moves us toward a more sustainable future for those most impacted and for all Californians.

Contacts

Nina Robertson, Earthjustice, (415) 217-2000

Rachel Boyer, Sierra Club, (651) 315-6553

Kay Cuajunco, California Environmental Justice Alliance, (619) 889-7865

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