On Monday, August 5, 2019, the Inland Empire Economic Partnership and Californians for Balanced Energy Solutions, joined representatives from more than twenty cities to advocate for more inclusive and balanced energy policies in California. Over twenty cities in the Inland Empire recently passed resolutions supporting inclusive energy policies, in response to state agencies’ moves to eliminate the use of natural gas in the state. The cities say they want fair policies for residents that keep utility bills affordable, maintain energy reliability, and preserve consumer choice. Most of them argue keeping bills affordable is a primary consideration and although there are thousands of residents also concerned about the region’s poor air quality, there was little discussion regarding the relationship between natural gas, oil industry activities and public health. About 90 percent of homes in Central and Southern California use natural gas for home space and water heating or cooking, and studies show that consumers favor natural gas for those uses because it is more affordable than electricity. However, Riverside and San Bernardino continue to have some of the worst air quality in the nation whether considering ozone or particulate pollution. “Riverside County needs effective and affordable energy policies that address air quality, reliability affordability,” said Kevin Jeffries, Riverside County Supervisor 1st District. “An inclusive approach that uses clean, safe, and affordable energy is critical. That does not exclude the use of natural gas in homes and businesses, which our residents prefer.” Experts report that natural gas and oil industry activities add to the ozone in general as do rising temperatures that scientists say are contributing to wildfires which also increase ozone and particulate pollution. The last three years have been the warmest years on record and the area’s air quality has received an F three years in a row. This may partly explain state moves to eliminate the use of natural gas in the state. County and business officials noted that renewable natural gas is a more affordable and less disruptive alternative that would meet California’s climate goals. By replacing just 20 percent of California’s natural gas supply with renewable natural gas (RNG) produced from emissions at landfills, wastewater, farms, and treatment plants, the state would reduce emissions equal to converting 100 percent of buildings to run on more expensive electric-only energy by 2030.
Header Photo: Kevin Jefferies, Riverside CountySupervisor 1st District