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Photo: Richard Masoner

Oil Industry Money Buying Too Much Influence in California

, director, California & Western States

It’s been clear to a lot of people for a long time that there’s too much money in politics, and in California the statistics clearly indicate there is too much oil money in politics. Lobbying expenses by oil companies in California reached an astonishing $11 million from July through September of 2015. The third-quarter lobbying expenses paid for an expensive campaign this past summer by Big Oil to derail an oil-reduction provision in California’s ambitious climate legislation, SB 350 (De León and Leno). If that’s not startling enough, the oil industry has spent an eye-popping total of $17.7 million so far this year to influence California energy policies with three months still to go. That annual amount (which is bound to go up even more by year’s end) averages to $147,500 per legislator—a lot more than California’s 120 state senators and assembly members make in their annual salaries. Read more >

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Methane is Really Bad. Our Methane Rules Need To Be Really Good.

, senior fuels engineer

Methane, the second largest contributor to global warming after carbon dioxide, is a short-lived but extremely powerful greenhouse gas. This is why the Obama administration is moving to curb methane emissions from the largest source of U.S. methane emissions—the oil and gas sector. In August, the EPA proposed methane emission standards for new and modified oil and gas drilling wells. Although this rule is an important and much needed first step, more must be done, including establishing similar standards for existing oil wells, and comprehensively addressing all of the sector’s unnecessary emissions.

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Happy Fifth Birthday, Modern Electric Cars! Three Key Trends in the EV Market

, senior engineer, Clean Vehicles

This December, the first cars sold in the modern era of electric cars will turn five years old.  We’ve seen impressive growth in those first 5 years—but have we arrived at a tipping point where EVs are inevitable? Probably not; despite major progress, policy support is playing a critical role pushing automakers who are reluctant and helping consumers overcome barriers to EV ownership. Therefore the next 5 years are critical to get us to that tipping point. To see where we might be going, let’s take a look at the state of the electric vehicle (EV) market and how it has grown over the last 5 years. Read more >

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Back to the Future? Clean Energy, Clean Cars, and 7 Ways We’ve Leapt Forward from 1985 to 2015

, senior energy analyst, Clean Energy

At the end of the classic 1985 movie “Back to the Future”, our young heroes travel in a flying DeLorean to a distant time: October 21, 2015, to be precise. What Marty McFly and Jennifer Parker find is a world that is familiar in a lot of ways, but advanced in others.

In our own version of 2015, we’re distinctly deficient in self-tying shoes, self-drying clothes, and hoverboards (maybe). And (maybe more importantly) there’s a decided dearth of garbage-fed flux capacitors for flying cars. It turns out we still power a few too many of our cars and homes with fossil fuels (that’s so 20th century…). But when it comes to some other aspects of energy and transportation, here are seven examples of how we’ve come a long way. Read more >

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Automaker Rankings Revisited—Does Volkswagen Now Have the “Dirtiest Tailpipe”?

, vehicles analyst

Last year, we released our semi-regular report card on the auto industry, the Automaker Rankings, where Volkswagen tied for 3rd place behind Hyundai-Kia and Honda. However, the astounding news this month around VW’s diesel vehicles is not only a black eye on the company—it also calls into question just how “green” the VW fleet truly is. We’ve received a lot of questions about the impact this scandal has on their environmental performance, so I’d like to take the opportunity to address some of those questions. Read more >

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