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California Legislature Passes Newsom’s New Energy Policy That Could Allow Easier Funding For Fossil Fuels

The California legislature passed its Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom’s new energy strategy to keep the grid operating in the state, all while introducing an economic package that some say will not help the economy.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the legislature passed a bill on Tuesday night giving the Department of Water Resources (DWR) the ability to bypass the regular procedure of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which includes an opportunity for public commentary when making decisions, to give money to gas-powered plants and diesel generators. The measure passed the Senate 27 to 8, and passed the Assembly by 57 to 13.

It also has funding to keep the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant open longer than 2024 and 2025, securing up to $75 million in reserve resources, per CalMatters.

State Senator Henry Stern (D) observed that the legislation will permit state authorities to purchase “some emergency fossil fuel resources,” but Newsom’s administration has said that will only be utilized as a last option.

Newsom’s team also told Stern that the measure won’t permit four gas plants in Southern California to remain open after 2023, but climate advocates don’t agree. Government regulators could potentially take more steps in order to keep the plants running.

According to a prior article from the Los Angeles Times, other agencies and air quality districts will also not be able to give their consent to the DWR’s choices on which suppliers to fund. A separate measure would permit corporations constructing some renewable energy sources to bypass approval from county governments.

Last month, Newsom asked legislators to greenlight a $5.2 billion “strategic electricity reliability reserve” that would fund emergency energy sources over the coming few years. If signed by the governor, this measure would make it so that the DWR gains the funds through this separate review procedure with the California Energy Commission.

EJ Antoni, a research fellow for Regional Economics at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Wire that a lot of Democratic governors’ “Green New Deal vision is bumping up against reality in a very hard way.”

“California already was having blackout and brown out problems to the point where they’re now predictable, and the green energy nonsense is just adding insult to injury,” he said.

Antoni added that they are aware that no matter how much these sources are subsidized, “they’re not going to generate enough electricity.”

“So now,” he added, “they have to go back to the tried and true fossil fuels, nuclear, hydro, et cetera, to try to meet their state’s power demands.” He said Newsom is realizing they “don’t have enough electricity from all of this newfangled green energy stuff that we were promised. … they’re basically having to go hat in hand to the very people they tried to shut down” and ask them to keep producing enough electricity.

In a joint statement earlier this week, Newsom, along with California Senate President pro-Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D) said the blueprint for the 2022-2023 budget was reached and will have $17 billion in inflation relief, giving tax refunds to people in the state. Twenty-three million Californians will receive direct funds of up to $1,050, and the state sales tax on diesel will be temporarily stopped. The package will also provide more money to assist with utility and rent payments.

Antoni, however, said “it looks like they’re helping Californians, but all they’re really doing is taking money out of investment,” adding, “they’re just decreasing investment to increase consumption. That’s a formula for slower growth in the long run. So they’re really not helping anybody.”

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