Today, the City Council took bold and decisive action by voting 12-0 to make Los Angeles the biggest city in the country to move toward a fossil-free future. We approved a road map that will get LA to 100 percent clean energy in an efficient, sustainable and equitable way. Councilmember Mike Bonin and I authored the motion because the realities of inaction on climate change are too stark for us to do nothing. My goal with this motion is to set an example for action that I hope other cities will follow.
Why clean energy? For the third year in a row, the American Lung Association ranked Los Angeles as the city with the worst air pollution in the United States.
Our "bad air days" are caused by airborne particles spewed by highway traffic, diesel trucks, farm equipment and fireplaces. The real culprit is our addiction to fossil fuels - which is unhealthy for our families and neighborhoods.
The American Lung Association report says Los Angeles remains the nation's leader in harmful ozone pollution from car tailpipes emissions. This pollution can trigger asthma attacks and heart attacks, lead to lung cancer and cause premature death. It also causes climate change. It's why we have had more extreme heat days this decade than the last. In fact, we just endured the hottest August ever recorded, in what might become the hottest year every recorded.
The issue is serious, and for those of us who care about our environment and the future of our planet, it's also frustrating because we have come so far since I was a kid in the 1970s, when the smog was so thick you couldn't see much of the Valley or the Basin if you were looking down from atop the Hollywood Hills.
That's why Councilmember Bonin and I partnered with the Sierra Club and other organizations, and most importantly the LADWP, to make 100 percent clean energy not just a goal, but something truly attainable in the future.
What 100% Clean Energy Means for LA
The groundbreaking legislation we approved instructs LADWP to form a research collaborative with energy experts, local universities and other stakeholders to identify the specific steps necessary to generating all of the electricity Los Angeles needs from clean, safe and renewable resources.
Los Angeles has made remarkable progress to clean up the electricity powering homes, schools and businesses in recent years, including adopting commitments to phase out coal-fired power, developing the largest energy efficiency program in the state, and expanding rooftop solar offerings for homeowners, renters and businesses. Importantly, LADWP is also embracing equity as a core part of the transition to clean energy with programs like the utility pre-craft trainee program, creating clean energy career pipelines from disadvantaged communities into the local union. The utility will also soon launch a community solar pilot designed to help low-income Angelenos share in the benefits of rooftop solar.
The 100 percent clean energy motion gives Los Angeles guidance as we transform the way the city powers its schools, businesses and homes. Under the leadership of LADWP, the research partnership will focus on identifying the roadblocks that stand in the way of a completely clean energy portfolio, and will make policy recommendations to the City Council as obstacles to clean energy are revealed.
As a next step in the process, LADWP will report back to the Council in 60 days with a structure for the partnership and a timeline for its work.
This is a great day for Los Angeles and our goal of building a sustainable future for generations to come. As noted by the students carrying homemade signs in City Hall, "the future is bright."
Please let me know what you think of LA's move toward 100 clean energy in Los Angeles. If you have comments or ideas, email [email protected] or call (213) 473-7002.