Free Public Forum on Climate Change

ClimateChange color

The Natural Resources Committee sponsored its Fourth Annual Climate Change Forum on Saturday, March 21. About fifty people attended the meeting at Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church. There were three speakers and copious refreshments for all. The LWV-PA was the lead organizer, and there were nine co-sponsors including the Green Council at Neighborhood Church.

The first speaker was Leesa Nayudu, who is the Power Resource Planning Manager at Pasadena Water and Power. She described the current sources of Pasadena’s electricity and their future plans. They are in the middle of a major update of their Integrated Resources Plan (IRP). They are considering several scenarios to get off coal and to increase renewables. They should have a draft IRP plan in the next couple of months, and there will be a public meeting to get public input. She told us that currently 45 percent of Pasadena’s power comes from the Intermountain Power Plant in Utah, but 89 percent of our greenhouse gas emissions come from that plant. They plan to phase out power from that plant by 2027 or possibly sooner.

The second speaker was Laura Crane, Director for the California Renewable Energy Initiative, for The Nature Conservancy. She has been part of a solar energy task force that has been identifying the most favorable places in the Western deserts to site solar plants to minimize damage to the delicate ecosystems. They have successfully worked with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which will include environmental factors in the permitting process for solar plants. The Nature Conservancy would like to site solar in areas that have already been degraded—some 300,000 acres.

The third speaker was Rob Haw from the Citizens Climate Lobby. He described how a carbon fee and dividend approach can quickly reduce our carbon emissions while creating jobs and increasing the GDP. He described how a fee would be charged on fossil fuels at the place where they come out of the ground (or where they are imported into the country). This fee would be put into a trust fund, and 100 percent of the revenue would be returned to households in the United States. Border adjustment would be used to level the international trade playing field between nations.

Near the end of the meeting we all filled out a one-page form to estimate our carbon footprint. It included five of the major ways we emit carbon dioxide—flying, electricity use, natural gas use, food (eating), and driving. This was an exciting meeting filled with actionable information.

—Rody Stephenson, Natural Resources Committee