Anti-Natural gas bill still bears threat to affordable energy

By Michael Shaw

Capitol Update, May 4, 2018 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

AB 3232 by Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) is the proverbial solution in search of a problem. The bill, presumably about reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from buildings, is one of several bills intended to eliminate the use of natural gas as an energy source in California, much to the detriment of manufacturers and food processors. 

The bill started out directing the California Energy Commission (CEC) to set GHG emissions limits that achieve a 50 percent reduction below 1990 levels by 2030. However, effective opposition by CMTA, California Building Industry Association (CBIA) and California Business Properties Association (CBPA) amongst many other groups led to significant reductions in the scope of the bill.

Despite this progress in mitigating the potential impact of AB 3232, the bill continues to carry a ‘stealth’ natural gas attack in its language. One provision directs the CEC to, “open a proceeding to consider load management standards and strategies needed to optimize building energy use in a manner that reduces the emissions of greenhouse gases.” This language effectively directs the CEC to take an action that could lead to limits on natural gas use in residential and commercial buildings. 

The bill also tries to sneak this GHG emissions limit threat in under the auspices of being, “consistent with the state’s greenhouse gas reduction target of 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.” The fault in this logic is that GHG emissions associated with energy consumed in buildings are already accounted for under the Cap-and-Trade program, so setting another emissions limit targeting building energy use results in a duplicative, unnecessary and costly regulation. 

The coalition effort, led by CMTA, CBIA and CBPA, continue to push for amendments to that limit the bill to conducting a study assessing the potential for building GHG emissions reductions related to the space and water heating only. 

AB 3232 is waiting action by the Assembly Appropriations Committee. 

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