Communities on the Front Lines of Climate Change Demand Vulnerable Working Families Be Prioritized in Transition off of Gas

Sacramento – On the heels of news reporting that the CPUC is launching a rulemaking process to manage a transition away from gas, community leaders from across California rallied on the steps of the Capitol to launch a statewide campaign aimed at powering up clean energy and powering down dirty gas to protect working families. As an immediate first step, the “Regenerate California” campaign is calling on state leaders, state agencies, and utilities to ensure that any transition away from gas plants prioritizes environmental justice communities, and vulnerable workers.

“Between fires and smog days, gas plants suck the life out of the frontline communities who live near them,” said Allen Hernandez, Executive Director for the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice. “This is about protecting working families – particularly communities of color – that live near these dirty gas plants.”

Renewables like solar, wind, geothermal, energy efficiency, and battery storage are more cost effective than gas and will continue to become cheaper OR reduce in price – representing a far better alternative to protect the health of working families and California’s economic sustainability.

“Gas plants are costing our communities their health, and they represent a waste of consumers’ money and communities’ funding resources,” said Shana Lazerow, Legal Director for Communities for a Better Environment. “We know that communities and the planet have to stop burning fossil fuels, and any investment in new or continuing gas is money committed to stranded assets, when it should be targeted at clean energy, energy efficiency, storage and other clean alternatives that build resilience and clean air in our most-impacted communities.”

“Our state is already committing to a full transition – with a historic policy to move into a 100% renewable future and now a rulemaking process to transition off of gas,” said Jose Torres, Energy Equity Program Manager for the California Environmental Justice Alliance. “Instead of clinging to a fading gas industry, we should be focusing on developing a strategy to ensure the working families impacted the most by the harmful effects of these gas plants are taken care of and their communities are the first to receive the benefits of a clean and renewable economy.”

California does not need gas to meet the state’s energy demand, and it is inconsistent with the state’s air quality and greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. According to expert modeling, California could still reliably meet its energy needs if 28 gas plants in California were taken offline. Gas plants represent a barrier to not only providing access to clean energy for frontline communities, but also to California’s commitments to become a 100% clean energy state by 2045.

“In the last year, local communities have shown decision-makers that fossil fuels are no longer acceptable, and utilities in response have opted for clean energy instead of gas plants,” said Luis Amezcua, Senior Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club. “These projects have created clean energy careers where workers earn family-sustaining wages and benefits. We have a big opportunity to build a clean energy future that prioritizes workers, vulnerable communities, and reliability.”

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