What else, really, can we say?

Back in 2006, the South Coast Air Quality Management District tried to change its rules to create a bunch of new pollution credits in this air basin and then to distribute those credits to fossil-fueled powerplants.  Of course, I’ve talked about this a lot.

Back then, the District insisted that these new powerplants were needed in order to avoid rolling black-outs because we just won’t have enough power available to meet the needs of residents and business here.  The SCAQMD insisted that it understood the energy needs of the basin.

Back then I argued that the District was not striking a reasonable balance between the need for energy and the need to clean the air.  You know–because clean air matters.  In fact, here’s the PowerPoint for the presentation I made to the SCAQMD governing board.  This was the crux of what I said–

The staff and board of the SCAQMD disagreed and insisted that more powerplants were needed or the lights were going out in the south coast air basin–which is all of Orange county and most of Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties.

We sued.  The SCAQMD wrote in it’s 2007 brief:

The 2006 revisions to Rule 1309.1 [to allow powerplants to buy pollution credits from the District] were based on the District’s determination that electricity shortages are likely to continue based on increased power demand, retirement of older power plants, and certain limitations of the power grid that inhibit the transfer of power to southern California from northern California and Arizona.   Petitioners have not, and cannot, present any evidence to show that California has emerged from the ongoing energy crisis.

When the Court ruled in 2008 that the SCAQMD could not implement its pollution-causing scheme without adequate environmental review that actually discloses–instead of hides–the health and environment impacts of their decision, they were beside themselves–telling everyone who would listen that the lights were going out:

“What’s the responsible action?” asked Barry Wallerstein, the air district’s executive officer. “Should we wait until we have brownouts and blackouts to build new power plants? We need lights in our schools and power for our factories and electricity in our homes.”

Wallerstein said the region needs about 2,000 megawatts of new capacity, and that sufficient offsets are unavailable on the open market.

Well, here we are in the summer of 2010.  The SCAQMD still has not complied with the Court’s order to disclose the health and environmental impacts of adding tons and tons and tons and tons of new pollution to the air here.  The powerplants have not been built.  And the lights still have not gone out.  In fact–as we wrap up a series days of record-breaking temperatures here in the south coast air basin, we are awash in electricity.  The California Independent System Operator, the folks responsible for monitoring energy flows, showed our energy needs like this


Presents the current level of conservation requested of consumers within the California ISO service area. As the Alerts, Warnings & Emergency (AWE) status increases, the need for conservation will rise. The ISO offers a list of Powerful Habits to help consumers conserve electricity at home and the office.

How’s that for evidence?

The responsible action is to meet our energy needs with clean renewable energy that doesn’t kill people and the plant like relying upon fossil fuel does.  The responsible action is not to change the law to ensure that more pollution is pumped into the air here.

We should not wait until we have brownouts and blackouts to build new powerplants.  We should act now to ensure that we meet our energy needs using the responsible tools of efficiency, conservation, and clean renewable energy.

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