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Julie Light, 510-992-4083, jlight@fwwatch.org

New Report Exposes “Cleanwashing” in California: State Renewables Program Includes Dirty, Polluting Energy Sources

California gets a C in renewable energy from advocacy group

Sacramento, CA - A new evaluation by the advocacy group Food & Water Watch reveals that California counts filthy, polluting energy sources such as paper mill waste and methane from landfills, sewage treatment plants and factory farms as “renewable,” and it includes them in its Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) clean energy initiative. The evaluation is part of a broader study of 29 different state renewables programs that awarded report card grades based on the cleanliness and quality of each RPS package. Grades ranged from B- to F, with California earning only a C. Simply put, the evaluation finds that in California, “renewable” energy does not mean clean energy.

 In addition to identifying dirty energy sources in the state RPS program, the Food & Water Watch evaluation also included an analysis of the program’s ambition and timeline regarding a full transition to 100 percent renewable energy as soon as possible. California’s RPS plan calls for achieving 50 percent renewable energy by 2030. This target was factored into the state’s C rating, since California could do much better.

 "California needs to clean up its definition of renewable energy. Burning wood and manure from mega-dairies is not clean and renewable, but currently counts as renewable energy,” said Adam Scow, California director of Food & Water Watch. “The only renewable power that should be in the standards are wind, solar, geothermal, and tidal."

 In Los Angeles, communities are fighting to close dangerous, leaky gas storage facilities, like Play del Rey on the city’s densely populated Westside. They believe that burning “biogas” from landfills, factory farms and sewage treatment plants will not solve the problem.

 "Dirty energy such as methane should not be part of the RPS." said Los Angeles homeowner Tudor Popescu who lives near the Playa del Rey gas field. "It is too easy to combine it with methane from fossil fuel sources and then pipe into my neighborhood. This simply prolongs the use of underground methane storage and risk of leaks, blowouts, and explosions."

RPS programs require utilities to purchase or generate a minimum percentage of electricity from renewable sources. Stronger programs would provide a serious boost for the continued growth of clean energy, since these state RPS mandates account for more than half of all domestic renewable energy growth since 2000. As the report finds, states are already meeting - or exceeding- their current goals, which demonstrates the ability and the need to act more aggressively.

Download the report.

Download the CA fact sheet.

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Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer organization that works to ensure clean water and safe food. We challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and by transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink.

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