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Santa Monica Lawmaker Pushes For Renewable Natural Gas

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

By Hector Gonzalez
Staff Writer

April 14, 2015 -- A bill by Santa Monica-area state Sen. Ben Allen that requires sellers of natural gas to switch to greener products has passed a key committee, his office announced.

Senate Bill (SB) 687 passed the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee last week on a vote of 7 to 3. It now goes to the Senate Environmental Quality Committee for a hearing on April 29.

“California is a leader in efforts to combat climate change, but our gas usage has been left out of the equation until now,” said Allen, D-Santa Monica. “

This legislation aims to reduce the harmful impact the natural gas sector, which is a major contributor to global warming, by shifting to more clean and green forms of gas that are readily available.”

The state’s natural gas sector is responsible for causing one-quarter of California’s greenhouse gas emissions, as well as significant air and water pollution, Allen said.

SB 687 requires the sellers of gas to transition to renewable, less carbon intensive products, such as gas made from organic waste. The proposal is modeled after the Renewable Portfolio Standard, which has doubled the state’s renewable electricity use in the last decade, he said.

As more and more communities turn organic waste into energy, California has enough supply to meet a renewable standard, industry officials said. But natural gas sellers have been reluctant to expand the use of organic waste because of a lack of certainty that the product will be purchased once it is produced.

“We have been stuck at 1 percent renewable gas for more than a decade,” Julia Levin of the Bioenergy Association of California testified at last week’s Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee hearing. 

“The private sector is not going to make the required investment in renewable gas without market certainty,” Levin said. 

The renewable standard proposed in SB 687 applies to all sellers of natural gas in California, including utilities and gas providers who sell directly to large customers.

California imports 91 percent of its natural gas, making the state vulnerable to supply and price fluctuations, Allen said

By transitioning to in-state renewable sources, the legislation is expected to create tens of thousands of in-state jobs, he said. 

“SB 687 will improve our energy security by removing our state’s dependence on out-of-state oil suppliers,” said Allen.

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