• The Promise of Clean Fuels in the West, and Beyond

    by Susan Frank, Director, California Business Alliance for a Clean Economy

    California is not alone in seeking to advance clean energy and climate policies – Washington, Oregon and British Columbia (which, along with California, comprise the Pacific Coast Collaborative, or PCC) all have agreed to take meaningful action to reduce their carbon emissions. One way to accomplish this is through low carbon fuel policies, like California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS), which has been a focus of the CA Business Alliance for a Clean Economy for several years.

    Today, the International Council on Clean Transportation and E4tech released a report (available here) which examined what would happen if all four PCC jurisdictions adopted clean fuel standards. The report finds that doing so is feasible, from a fuel-supply perspective, and would likely result in substantial reductions in oil consumption and carbon emissions.

    One of the most illuminating findings in this report is how broad the potential landscape of low-carbon fuel solutions appears to be. There are many different combinations of fuels, including electricity, biofuels, natural gas, and hydrogen, which allow the Pacific Coast to reduce the amount of emissions coming from its transportation sector. It’s clear that different approaches to clean transportation can co-exist rather than compete.

    I have long advocated that in order for California to achieve its clean energy goals, businesses and consumers must have an array of energy options from which to choose. This new report illustrates how success does not hinge on the development of any single technology but rather a portfolio approach.

    It’s easy to visualize a clean energy future if you are willing to assume that advanced, zero-emission technology will rapidly achieve low-cost, large-scale deployment. The ICCT study indicates that there’s room for all types of fuels and technologies over the next decade, and mixing and matching the most promising options can get us a long way toward our goal.

    Having a diverse mix of resources contributing to transportation maximizes the opportunities for business in the near term. Low carbon fuel policies, like California’s LCFS, allow a wide range of technologies to find fertile ground and allow innovative companies unique opportunities to commercialize their products.

    No one is yet certain what clean transportation will look like 20 years from now – will it include decentralized solutions which closely reflect local conditions or large consolidated operations which take advantage of economies of scale? The ICCT report shows that from a policy perspective, we don’t have to make a choice – different approaches can keep us on the glide path toward long term clean energy progress.

  • California Means Business

    by Susan Frank, Director, California Business Alliance
    November 10, 2014

    When we created the California Business Alliance more than five years ago, we intended to build a large network of companies that supports the state’s approach to clean energy and climate policy. We have succeeded in that task thanks to our nearly 1,300 small and mainstream businesses and business trade associations from throughout the state; yet, there still are forces in the broader business community that are resistant to sharing the positive news about California’s continued economic success.

    cmb-headerSo, we recently launched California Means Business (CMB) as a place to read the good news about California businesses – how they are growing, expanding, investing, setting the tone, and illustrating why our state is the 8th largest economy in the world. We’ve teamed up with the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (Go-Biz) to identify and highlight California businesses that are creating jobs, growing our economy and improving the lives of Californians.

    To set the stage for our initiative, it’s worth taking a look at the dynamic and vibrant marketplace that California fosters:

    • 77% of the billion-dollar startups are based in California, predominantly in the Silicon Valley area.
    • In 2013, California was the biggest importer in the U.S.*
    • In 2013, California was the second largest exporter in the U.S.*
    • In 2013, California commodities made up over 10% of the total U.S. exports.
    • Computers & Electronics is the largest category for exports in California, valuing over $42 billion.*
    • The Agriculture industry is also in the top 5 commodity categories in California and increased over 15% from 2012-2013 (by dollar value).*

    CMB will serve as a communications hub to push out good news, like the numbers above, that illustrate California’s mainstream business success. We are using the hashtag #CAMeansBusiness through social media, and hope you will help in sharing the news about our state’s vibrant business community.

    When your company or a business you know achieves a milestone, opens a new location, hires workers, or expands to new markets, we want to know about it and share the good news that California Mean Business.

    *The information identified with an asterisk was generated from the usatrade.census.gov website.



  • California and Mexico to Advance Clean Energy Future Benefitting Businesses on Both Sides of the Border

    by Ruben Aronin, Assistant Director, California Business Alliance
    August 5, 2014

    Last month, I had the pleasure of representing the nearly 1,300 members of the California Business Alliance as a delegate on California Governor Jerry Brown’s Trade Mission to Mexico. The impressive delegation included numerous senior state government officials, incoming State Senate pro Tem-elect Kevin DeLeón, 14 other state legislators as well as more than 90 business and clean energy leaders from across California.

    The purpose of the trip was to strengthen and broaden relations around clean energy, trade and education. During the trip, Governor Brown met with President Nieto and his senior ministers and signed several MOUs to implement a more robust partnership around these critical issues.

    Several Administration officials and state legislators shared with me that it was especially appropriate that the clean energy and climate change MOUs were signed during this trade mission as the future business and investment opportunities for companies in California and Mexico will come from deploying and scaling clean energy and clean transportation technologies. These MOUs will support and advance the business innovations that not only will help transform our regional economies in North America but also will lead to robust export markets because they will provide solutions desperately needed around the world.

    “California and Mexico both take the low-carbon imperative with utmost seriousness,” said Governor Brown. “By this agreement, we intend to work together to dramatically increase solar, wind and other renewable investments.” The agreement signed outlines a partnership for Mexico and California to work closely together to promote and collaborate on low carbon energy, clean technologies, biofuels and energy efficiency to enhance reliability and affordability of energy supplies.

    signing picAt the first day’s signing of the climate change MOU with Mexico’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Undersecretary Rodolfo Lacy and Mexican National Forestry Commission Director General Jorge Rescala Pérez, Governor Brown said,  “California can’t do it alone and with this new partnership with Mexico we can make real progress on reducing dangerous greenhouse gases.” The Governor then gave a vigorous defense of AB 32, California’s landmark clean energy and climate law, saying that it takes a lot of “political skill and will” to advance change but that he’s committed to defending the law against entrenched interests who are spending money to try to unravel some of its key provisions.

    During the trip, I was pleased to meet many leaders from California’s robust solar, clean and renewable energy sectors, who came to explore investment opportunities in Mexico. It was interesting although not surprising to learn that Mexico, like other nations,  would like to replicate California’s success with creating clean energy policies that drive investments and job creation. Jose Ramon Ardavin Ituarte, Executive Director of the Business Council for Sustainable Development in Mexico, an organization similar to the Business Alliance, spoke passionately about the opportunities to tap into solar, wind and geothermal clean energy solutions throughout the country.

    delegation picOver the course of the trip, Governor Brown and Administration officials reiterated that the agreements being signed represented the beginning of a practical hands-on partnership between California and Mexico to help both parties advance their economic and clean energy goals. Thanks to California’s government and business leadership, there is now a solid regional roadmap to follow that can expand innovation while driving economic growth.

    In the last 20 years since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was signed, trade between the U.S. and Mexico has increased 470% to more than $500 billion annually. There is every reason to believe that the economic benefits of a clean energy collaboration jumpstarted by California and Mexico this summer will yield similar results.

  • Speaking for the “True Business Community”

    by Susan Frank, Director, California Business Alliance
    July 11, 2014

    A Central Coast construction firm.
    A Los Angeles-area mattress company.
    A Sacramento print shop.
    A Silicon Valley business association.
    A Southern California ethnic chamber of commerce.
    A San Diego dry cleaner.
    A Palm Springs art gallery.
    A statewide small business association.

    According to an oil industry-funded group (called “Fed Up at the Pump” or FUP), which was formed to oppose the state’s clean energy law (AB 32), none of these businesses or associations are considered part of the “true business community.” According to FUP, these mainstream companies and organizations are lining their pockets with government subsidies and are unworthy of speaking for business.

    This disingenuous attack from FUP, which is orchestrated by an industry that receives billions in government subsidies annually, is nothing more than a desperate move to claim some sort of false moral high ground. In reality, FUP’s members are a who’s who of the state’s largest emitters and have been working to kill AB 32 since the day it became law eight years ago. While FUP may represent some legitimate business interests, it is a group that is bankrolled by the very industry that is seeking an exemption from AB 32.

    As a former chamber of commerce CEO, I can’t imagine that the California Chamber of Commerce or the California Small Business Alliance, two of FUP’s members, would endorse a message that the businesses and associations I mentioned above shouldn’t be considered part of the “true business community.”

    Perhaps what distinguishes my members from FUP’s members is that mine believe in regulatory certainty, a level playing field, and the belief that our state’s approach to clean energy is winning the day. In fact, California’s just moved up a notch to claim the spot as the 8th largest economy in the world, and my members are part of the economic engine that make that ranking possible.

    To suggest that the “true business community” is only a handful of large industry groups is offensive to the more than 1,280 businesses, associations and chambers of commerce that make up the membership of the California Business Alliance, and should offend any business person that has chosen this fine state to invest in, set up shop, employ workers, and build a life for his or her family.

  • US EPA Power Plant Pollution Rules to Generate Billions in Economic Benefits

    by Ruben Aronin, Assistant Director, California Business Alliance

    Last month, the U.S. EPA followed California’s lead and released new rules to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from power plants that significantly contribute to climate change. As with many successful regulatory initiatives, the EPA took a page from the business play book and set the ultimate targets without an overly prescriptive plan of how to achieve them.

    By allowing states significant flexibility to implement innovative and varied approaches to reach the goal of reducing carbon pollution from power plants to meet a 30 percent reduction by 2030, the EPA is providing a roadmap to unleash the entrepreneurship and creativity that have always been the best attributes of American companies.

    Recently, I had the opportunity to hear Dan Utech, Director for Energy and Climate Change at the White House Domestic Policy Council, share some of the particulars of the new power plant rule and the myriad economic benefits that will result from its implementation. Utech briefed business leaders from across the country about the impacts of the plan and called it a “big deal” that will help make businesses and our economy become more energy-efficient and more productive.

    Since energy efficiency and renewable energy generation are key pieces of the plan, we can expect to see a significant increase in jobs. California has already benefitted from job growth from the clean energy industry for more than a decade, however other states are beginning to reap significant job benefits as well. Energy efficient investments also create a virtuous cycle of local economic benefits. Local jobs are created to conduct energy efficiency improvements in homes or businesses which results in monthly utility bill savings that then get invested right back into the local economy.

    The power plant reduction rule is especially helpful for businesses for the following reasons:

    • It establishes a national policy. Only 29 states currently have a renewable portfolio standard (for generating a percentage of power from sources such as solar and wind); this EPA rule will be a national standard, thus creating certainty that investors and businesses can rely on.
    • The plan isn’t prescriptive – it emphasizes state empowerment and focuses on outcomes.
    • States that have been working on clean energy, energy efficiency and emissions reductions (like California) are ahead of the game as they already offer a predictable business investment environment around their commitment to renewable energy and emissions reductions strategies.
    • The plan will likely incentivize states to invest in additional renewable energy production and energy storage that will be key drivers of future growth.
    • The existing and emerging business opportunities for clean energy companies also are likely to significantly increase as a result of this policy as it provides certainty by favoring investments in renewables and energy efficiency that help reduce carbon pollution.

    Utech concluded the briefing by reminding the business community that the new EPA rule represents a massive economic opportunity, with health and economic benefits for businesses, employees and the general public estimated to be $55 – $93 billion in 2030 compared to estimated costs of just $7.3 – $8.8 billion. Fortunately for our state’s businesses and the public at large, the EPA rule only improves upon California’s strong foundation created by its forward-thinking clean energy policies already in place.


    by Ruben Aronin, Assistant Director, California Business Alliance

    Electric vehicles (EVs) are on the move in California and across the country. On March 7, I had the opportunity to attend a day-long Governor’s Summit on Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEVs) at the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) headquarters in Sacramento that attracted more than 200 automakers, utility executives, state and local government officials, and nonprofit leaders from throughout the state. The summit was held to discuss the growing ZEV marketplace and to identify obstacles and opportunities toward meeting Governor Jerry Brown’s goal of having 1.5 million ZEVs on the road by 2025. I’m pleased to report that California is well on its way to meeting the Governor’s goals and also is helping to lead ZEV adoption nationally and globally.

    While the reintroduction of EVs to California’s roadways began just a few years ago, today there are already 18 varieties of virtually every vehicle type available and national EV sales are quickly approaching 200,000 cars. The summit featured a wide array of speakers from the public and private sectors including Matt Rodriquez, Secretary of the CalEPA; Mary Nichols, Chairman of the California Air Resources Board; Public Utilities Commissioner Carla Peterman; California Energy Commissioner Janea Scott; senior executives from Toyota, Nissan, GM, BMW and Hyundai; as well as senior officials from the Governor’s office.

    Virtually all of the public officials praised and congratulated the auto industry for delivering vehicles that meet the price, range and style attributes that meet the majority of consumers’ needs. CARB’s Mary Nichols repeatedly referred to the partnership that exists between California and automakers to build on the early successes of the EV marketplace, reiterating the state’s commitment to providing incentives to help grow the ZEV sector.

    The conference not only highlighted the benefits of a growing ZEV marketplace in California, but included a wide variety of testimonials – from the State of Oregon’s Chief EV Officer, to senior representatives from The Netherlands, to officials from Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management – all of whom are hoping to follow California’s lead and are helping to demonstrate market innovations that other states, including California, could replicate. For example, Oregon is growing consumer awareness and interest in EVs by working with its tourism board and rental car companies to establish several select EV destination tours of the state’s wine country, Mt. Hood and the Oregon Coast with GPS coordinates for preferred charging stations along each route.

    The market innovation and leadership of the growing California EV marketplace has the opportunity to transform the passenger vehicle transportation sector. Thanks to those advancements along with corresponding innovations in the freight and truck sectors, California can look forward to a future with cleaner air, healthier communities, and more vibrant economies.

  • California Air Resources Board (CARB) Releases Revised AB 32 Scoping Plan Update

    By Susan Frank, Director, California Business Alliance for a Green Economy

    On Monday, February 10, the California Air Resource Board released its revised Scoping Plan, the guiding document for implementation of the state’s groundbreaking clean energy and climate law, AB 32. The ultimate goal of the plan is to reduce California’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while continuing to foster a growing marketplace for clean energy innovation in a variety of sectors (transportation, fuels, waste, building and energy efficiency, etc.). The Plan provides a couple of important messages for California businesses including highlighting ways that local governments can use simple incentives to encourage businesses to reap the financial rewards of investing in energy and water efficiency.

    The revised Scoping Plan describes how one city “has budgeted $625,000 to incentivize businesses to make resource and management improvements to reduce energy, water, solid waste, recycling, and fuel costs. The program furnishes businesses with a comprehensive energy assessment, and if the energy savings are great enough, can provide grants and loans to help with recommended improvements. As of November 2013 the program has assisted 10 businesses for annual cumulative annual savings of nearly $140,000 while reducing annual GHG emissions by 135 metric tons.”

    The Plan goes on to say:

    “We are addressing climate change head on because we must, but the necessity of action should not imply lost opportunity or economic compromise. The supposition that the status quo, characterized by relatively inefficient use of finite fossil resources, represents a preferred or lower-cost energy system is a false one.

    The imperative of climate change and an unwavering commitment to meet the challenge through innovation will drive technology development and advance social progress. They provide clear signals that encourage businesses to grow and invest in ways that do not come at the expense of future generations, but instead, provide even more opportunity for growth in the future. Investments that allow us to do more with less and unlock the availability of clean, renewable energy only push out the boundary of our future potential.

    Through AB 32 and related policies, California has implemented a suite of policies that is reducing emissions by both reducing energy demand and cleaning up energy supply. Taken together, our efficiency and clean energy policies are reducing not only GHG emissions, but also energy costs for consumers. For example, while the State moves toward 33 percent renewable energy in its electricity supply mix, it continues to outpace the rest of the country on energy efficiency. The State’s building and appliance energy efficiency standards have saved Californians $74 billion in energy costs since 1977.

    California has the fourth lowest per-capita energy-related GHG emissions in the country and produces twice as much economic value for every unit of electricity used. California households also pay the ninth lowest electricity bills in the country.”

    These are the arguments the Business Alliance has been making since 2009 when it was founded – we have long known that AB 32 would pay dividends and at the same time reduce costs for businesses and consumers in the long run, all the while reducing carbon pollution impacts. Many of our more than 1,260 members echo these sentiments daily, while they walk the walk and talk the talk of improving energy efficiency, reducing waste, and driving clean vehicles running on clean fuels.

    The revised Scoping Plan reminds us that California’s entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well – in both the business community and among local governments – and that by staying the course on AB 32, we will continue to see our clean energy economy grow, innovate and set the bar for others to follow.

  • Business Alliance Applauds Brown Administration for Budget Proposal to Spend $850 Million of AB 32 Cap and Trade Auction Proceeds

    By Susan Frank, Director, California Business Alliance for a Green Economy

    What a way to start the New Year.

    Business Alliance blog readers may recall that just last month, I was proud to join a diverse coalition calling upon Governor Brown to make good on his promise to invest in clean energy, energy efficiency, and work to reduce climate impacts. The details of our October 2013 request to the Governor can be found in this letter signed by 93 businesses and organizations from across the state.

    In just the first full week of 2014, I am pleased to share that Governor Brown and his administration have responded favorably to our request by previewing their budget proposal on the use of AB 32 cap and trade auction proceeds, which calls for investing $850 million in clean energy, clean transportation and energy efficiency measures.

    Three hundred million is earmarked for sustainable communities and low carbon transportation including $100 million for funding public transit and integrating land use and transportation planning to develop mixed-use communities and $200 million for investing in low-carbon transportation. Further, more than 25 percent of the investments will be designated for disadvantaged communities most impacted by air pollution.

    On behalf of the more than 1,260 business and association members of the Business Alliance, I offer thanks to the Brown Administration for receiving our feedback over the past few months, and putting forward a budget proposal that invests AB 32 auction proceeds in ways that will benefit California’s businesses, consumers and the general public while serving as a model program for other states to follow.

    As California faces the growing threat of a serious drought and much of the United States remains under a deep arctic freeze, the impacts of climate change are disrupting business operations on a grand scale, from ski resorts, to services businesses, to local governments. Utilizing these cap and trade funds in ways that can benefit our cities, our urban parks, our transportation systems, and more, will provide much-needed near- and long-term benefits.

    I know the work isn’t yet complete, as the Legislature must rightly weigh in with its perspective on the Governor’s proposal. And there still is the matter of repayment of the rest of the loan of auction proceeds to the General Fund made in 2013 (there is $400 million remaining to be repaid). But Governor Brown deserves our praise for putting forward a budget proposal that will likely cement California’s position as a national and international leader on clean energy and climate, and for providing a plan for spending AB 32 cap and trade auction proceeds that ultimately will benefit all Californians.

  • Business Alliance Joins Diverse Coalition in Calling on Governor Brown to Repay Auction Proceeds Loan, and Invest in Jobs, Clean Energy and Clean Air


    By Susan Frank, Director California Business Alliance for a Green Economy

    Earlier today I was pleased to represent the more than 1,260 members of the California Business Alliance in calling upon Governor Jerry Brown to make good on his promise to invest in clean energy and work to reduce climate impacts.

    In this morning’s telepresser, I joined a diverse coalition of interests representing California businesses, along with local government, public health, transportation, environmental, social justice and natural lands organizations from across the state, in sending a clear message to the Governor.

    Specifically, we respectfully asked Governor Brown to repay the $500 million loan of cap and trade auction proceeds to the general fund in the current budget, and make good on commitments to voters by investing these and future proceeds, as required by law, in projects that grow the economy, create jobs in the communities that need them most, reduce carbon pollution and improve air quality. The details of our request to the Governor can be found in this letter signed by 93 businesses and organizations.

    California businesses know that investing half a billion dollars in smart, targeted initiatives will yield significant economic benefits and serve as an important signal to companies that “California means business” when it comes to investing in the bright future of its clean energy economy.

    California has an historic opportunity to make the investments that will build up our businesses and our communities, and cement California’s position as a global leader in the clean economy. It also happens to be the right thing to do.

    The message is timely, as the Governor is preparing his 2014-2015 budget request and the state’s Legislative Analyst has issued a new assessment, projecting a $5.6 billion surplus by June 2015 and rising surpluses for years to come. A budget surplus along with the Governor’s stated commitment to address the urgent threat of climate change translates into an imperative to invest proceeds now.

    Just yesterday, the White House hosted local leaders for the inaugural meeting of the President’s Climate Task Force of which Governor Brown is a member. I would ask Governor Brown to continue to demonstrate his state and national leadership by implementing the state’s AB 32 cap and trade auction proceeds investment strategy in ways that will bolster businesses and benefit communities across California.

  • Good News for California Businesses and Consumers: Court Upholds California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard

    by Susan Frank, Director California Business Alliance for a Green Economy

    Earlier this week, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS), a key provision of California’s landmark clean energy and climate law, AB 32. Overall, the court provided a strong opinion in favor of the legality, intention and effectiveness of the LCFS in determining that the standard does not discriminate against out-of-state fuel producers, reversing a 2011 U.S. District Court ruling. It was a clear and decisive win.

    Californians consume nearly 20 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel each year. The ruling means that the low carbon fuel marketplace will continue to expand, thus providing more clean fuel choices such as electricity and advanced biofuels to meet consumer demands. The ruling also is likely to lead to more market certainty for alternative fuel companies that are creating jobs and investing in the technologies and fuels that diversify our state’s transportation system.

    “California, if it is to have any chance to curtail greenhouse gas emissions, must be able to consider all factors that cause those emissions when it assesses alternative fuels,” wrote Judge Ronald Gould in the majority opinion.

    The significance of the court ruling has been widely covered by national media and legal scholars also have weighed in.

    California is charting a course that other states and the nation will follow – our pioneering LCFS is another feather in California’s diverse clean energy cap.

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