March 28, 2017
By Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times
Although California’s leaders may protest President Trump’s announcement Tuesday that he’s scrapping the Clean Power Plan, his decision is expected to have little effect on a state already marching toward renewable energy. In fact, greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation in the Golden State are already below what the federal government would have required by 2030, and they’re expected to drop even further.
“Rollback of the Clean Power Plan is pretty much irrelevant to California,” said Frank Wolak, a Stanford University economist who has advised state leaders on climate regulations.
The federal rules, enacted by former President Obama as part of his campaign against climate change, were intended to push states away from coal and toward cleaner energy sources. But that was already underway in California. Los Angeles, one of the last places in the state to rely on coal, was already planning to stop importing electricity from out-of-state coal plants by 2025.
In addition, state law requires California to generate half of its electricity from renewable sources such as solar and wind by 2030, and state Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) has suggested pushing even further.
It’s an open question how Trump could affect various efforts for California to integrate its electricity grid with neighboring states, an idea that has failed to gain traction so far. Advocates of the concept say regional cooperation could expand the market for renewable energy, but the lack of federal pressure to cut emissions could dampen enthusiasm in places such as Utah and Wyoming, which rely on coal.
“They don’t have the Clean Power Plan bearing down on them,” said Don Furman, who directs the Fix the Grid campaign that’s seeking closer relationships among West Coast states.
Ralph Cavanagh, an attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said he doesn’t expect changes to the Clean Power Plan to harm efforts to create a regional electricity grid, because of the falling cost of renewable energy.
“The rationale is stronger today than it was yesterday,” he said.