Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

It’s the last week of the legislative session, and as lawmakers rush to send bills to Governor Brown, one valley politician is at the center of the state's biggest political tug-of-war. At issue is the greenhouse gas reduction bill SB 350. It would cut the state's petroleum use in cars by half over the next 15 years. It would also set a 2050 deadline to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Electricity rates will be going up for some Californians. The California Public Utilities Commission approved a new rate structure Friday.

The commission unanimously voted to move from a from a four tier system to two tier system for electricity rates by 2019. That means low-use customers may start paying more, while customers in higher tiers may see a reduction in their bills. An additional surcharge for high-use customers will be introduced in 2017. 

San Joaquin River Restoration Program

A new study says the drought in California has forced an increased use of natural gas to produce electricity, as dwindling river flows have reduced hydropower generation. Ed Joyce reports from Sacramento.

The Pacific Institute says less hydroelectricity means more expensive electricity.

Peter Gleick: "We get a lot of electricity normally from hydropower, which is relatively inexpensive and relatively clean. And during a drought we don't have the water and we don't get the power."

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California's air regulators are increasingly turning their attention to a greenhouse gas that has largely gone overlooked - methane. 

According to the U.S. EPA, when it comes to climate change, methane emissions have an impact 20 times greater than CO2 emissions, pound for pound.

That's why Governor Jerry Brown singled out the gas during his inaugural address this month as part of his plan to combat climate change. 

California Air Resources Board

The LA Times recently called Mary Nichols a “rock star.” In 2013 Time Magazine called her one of the 100 most influential people in the world and the Thomas Edison on environmentalism. She’s the chair of the California Air Resources Board, and if it has something to do with air quality or climate change in the state, she probably has something to say about it.

The Californian / Reporting on Health Collaborative

California's landmark anti-global warming law will reach a new milestone in January 2015. That's when the state's cap and trade regulations begin to apply to transportation fuels like gas and diesel.

It's part of an effort to reduce the state's CO2 emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020. But industry groups and the state's non-partisan Legislative Analyst's Office say the regulations could also drive up prices at the pump. 

Rising Gas Prices Could Be Bad News For Politicians

Aug 7, 2014
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Gas is already expensive in California. And upcoming changes to the state’s Cap and Trade program could increase prices at the pump even more. As Capital Public Radio’s Katie Orr reports, that could be bad news for drivers and politicians.

Katie Orr:  “I’m standing at a busy Arco station in Sacramento. And with regular gas going for $3.69 a gallon, filling up my 15 gallon tank is going to be pricey. And coming changes to California’s Cap and Trade program may make it even more expensive.”

California Bill Would Delay Cap And Trade Transportation Fuel Permits

Jul 5, 2014
The Californian / Reporting on Health Collaborative

A California Assemblyman has introduced a bill that would delay part of the state’s greenhouse gas reduction program for at least three years. Under the bill, energy companies would be able to put off purchasing “transportation fuel pollution” permits. Capital Public Radio’s Max Pringle reports.

Office of Darrell Steinberg

The leader of California’s  Senate is issuing words of caution on Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to use money from the state’s cap-and-trade program to help pay for construction of high speed rail.  

Speaking with Valley Public Radio, Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg says he’s concerned about the rail authority’s plan to finance construction of the next stage of the bullet train, which would go from Bakersfield over the Tehachapi Mountains to Palmdale in Southern California.

Brown's Budget Proposal Spends Cap and Trade Money

Jan 9, 2014
California High Speed Rail Authority

California Governor Jerry Brown’s budget proposal includes some major investments in the environment. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, it lays out how he wants to spend $850 million in revenue from the state’s greenhouse gas reduction program known as cap-and-trade.

As expected, Governor Brown wants to invest a large portion of money raised from carbon auctions on High Speed Rail. The proposal includes $300 million for construction and integration of the rail system that he’s pitched as an environmentally-friendly alternative to cars.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

In the small Kern County community of Tupman, the 2013 pistachio harvest is well underway. 

Chris Romanini's family has been farming this land, just west of Interstate 5, where the valley's fields meet the Elk Hills for decades. 

It's probably not the first place you'd think of when it comes to the effort to reduce CO2 emissions and combat global warming. But just a few hundred yards away from this orchard, plans for a $4 billion power plant and fertilizer factory could soon make the Tupman area known for a lot more than those pistachios. 

Rising global temperatures aren’t just an international concern, they’re also an important local issue, especially when it comes to public health. How will climate change affect everything from rates of asthma and valley fever to wildfires and natural disasters?

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

More wildfires.  Warmer lakes.  And higher temperatures.  A new study from the California Environmental Protection Agency cites those and other signs that climate change is having a growing impact across the state.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

CalEPA has been tracking environmental indicators since the year 2000 in hopes of measuring the effects of climate change.  Here are some of the findings in the new study, based on 36 different indicators:

-       California’s high, low and average temperatures are going up – especially at night.

Commentary: Are We Fiddling While the Planet Warms?

Jul 9, 2013

Can we solve the climate crisis?  Are we wise enough?  In this segment of Valley Public Radio's commentary series The Moral Is, Fresno State philosophy professor Dr. Andrew Fiala asks whether, like Nero, we are fiddling while Rome burns.


President Obama recently announced a new initiative on climate change.  But will we be able to address climate change in time to prevent the worst that is predicted?  I doubt it.  Decades of dithering about global warming do not inspire hope. 

Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

Agriculture in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta has flourished thanks to rich organic soils. But after more than a hundred years of farming, those soils are eroding, and the interiors of many Delta islands are sinking. California may have a solution that would not only help farmers, but could combat climate change. Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento.

Budget Agreement Diverts Money From Cap and Trade

Jun 14, 2013
Valley Public Radio

California’s budget agreement borrows 500-million dollars from the state’s cap-and-trade program. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, environmentalists say the maneuver neglects polluted communities.

Environmentalists say money from the sale of carbon pollution permits is supposed to go to programs that help further reduce emissions. California Governor Jerry Brown and lawmakers say it will, just not this year.