People Post is a space for opinion pieces, letters to the editor and guest submissions from members of the Long Beach community. The following is an op-ed submitted by 2nd District Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Long Beach Post.
This past Tuesday, the Long Beach City Council heard a presentation from Clean Power Alliance (the Los Angeles and Ventura County Community Choice Aggregation comprised of 29 cities and unincorporated land in Los Angeles County). Our city was discussing whether to remain Southern California Edison’s largest electrical energy customer and maintain the status quo with SCE’s energy portfolio or join up with the 19, yes 19, other CCAs that are now up and running in California and move toward clean renewable energy for our great city.
Our climate crisis is all around us and we must act fast as though our lives depend on it — from the 500 statewide fires, to the increased impacts of pollution on the people of color, expectant mothers, not to mention coronavirus victims; to the fact that Black and Brown people are dying at a higher rate than White people as a result of living near freeways, landfills, ports; in other words the high pollutant areas ever present in our great city. You can cross reference the city demographics with air pollution and life expectancy to see the direct correlation.
We had a chance to take a step forward to help change these realities at city council on Tuesday. The city of Long Beach’s staff presentation was a forceful show of misconceptions. Not surprising, as staff has traditionally been unwilling to meaningfully engage and acknowledge on any level what Community Choice Energy has brought for all the other cities utilizing it: reduced electricity rates, clean energy, long term planning and stability of energy markets and reinvestment of rate proceeds back in their own communities.
Perplexing, until one asks the right questions: Who loses out if Long Beach becomes or joins an existing Community Choice Aggregator? The oil industry, and in alignment with the city’s ownership of the Wilmington oil fields, the city has a perception that we would then miss out if the city phased out oil too quickly. We own the Wilmington oil field and are in fact not a partner to the oil industry, but in fact we are “the Oil Industry.” Smart oil companies are actually investing in renewable resources.
Why isn’t Long Beach ready? It seems our council is ready, yet the staff presentation on Community Choice Aggregation was originally led by the head of Energy Resource Department. If we are going to live up to the aspirations of the mayor and some of the council, does it make sense to have an oil executive as the head of the “energy” department? Yes, our director is still listed as a VP for an oil company that has since filed bankruptcy. There’s more concerns than staff that just might not be up to speed with the opportunities of renewable clean energy.
In fact, the city of Long Beach is a dues-paying member with five different energy associations. The California Independent Petroleum Association also known as CIPA, is the most troubling: CIPA’s interests run counter to many of the climate goals our good city is attempting to do: whether in the goods movement 710 freeway corridor, to our Ports Sustainability Plan, to what we can, and should be able to provide to all of our city: Air that is not more likely to cause asthma, learning disabilities and cancers. Not only is CIPA extremely politically engaged at all political levels, so are their members like Signal Hill Petroleum and the California Resources Corporation (CRC). Members work to maintain the power of the petroleum industry. Bottom line.
I am proud that our city has taken an important step to prioritize its residents’ health by making commitments to the Paris Agreement, to finalizing a citywide Climate Adaptation and Action Plan (CAAP) and continuing to invest in zero emission buses, as well as advancing the climate goals of our port. These goals can not be maligned by misplaced loyalties, and fear of what our future as a city can and will be. The $25,000 fee alone is concerning enough when we constantly make “asks” of outside agencies for charitable actions toward our city.
“As an oil producer, we have belonged to the trade organization since 1999 as a way to stay abreast of the technical, regulatory and legislative changes that affect oil…