California


Photo: Craig Ulrich/Berkeley Lab

Climate Change and Groundwater: Incorporating Climate Realities and Uncertainties into California’s Groundwater Planning

, Senior Climate Scientist

Climate change is fundamentally transforming the way we manage water in the Western U.S. The recent Fourth California Climate Change Assessment lays out the many pressures facing water managers in California in detail. Luckily, the science available to us today creates opportunities for water managers and others to plan for changing climatic conditions. Read more >

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Photo: Henning Witzel

What is Resource Adequacy? Three Requirements that Keep the Lights on in California

In many parts of the United States, power plant owners can get paid for doing pretty much nothing. You might think that power plant owners make all their money selling the electricity they generate. However, many power plant owners also get paid for providing “capacity,” or the ability to generate electricity. These types of payments are playing an increasingly large role in keeping fossil-fueled power plants operational, and finding cleaner alternatives is going to be a big challenge. Read more >

Photo: Henning Witzel
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Photo: Oregon Convention Center/Flickr

Electric Vehicle Tax Credit Hangs in the Balance

, senior policy and legal analyst, Clean Vehicles

Today, I’m reporting on the legislative tug-of-war over the $7,500 tax credit for electric vehicles. Fossil fuel interests on one end, literally everyone else on the other. This fight arose when the suits over at Exxon, Shell, and Koch Industries became worried about the potential of electric vehicles (EVs) to mess with their 90 percent share of transportation fuel in the U.S. And you know what? They should be worried. The EV market is small but growing fast, and there have been tons of production milestones and new model releases over the past quarter. Read more >

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Photo: Bob Dass/Flickr

Winds and Wildfires in California: 4 Factors to Watch that Increase Danger

, senior climate scientist

Santa Ana influenced fires, which occur between October and April, are different from the warm and dry season fires, that typically occur between June and September. Scientists have found the main reasons why Santa Ana influenced fires contribute the vast majority of cumulative economic losses in California compared to other wildfires that typically occur in the summer.  From 1990-2009, Santa Ana influenced fires spread three times faster, occurred closer to urban areas, and burned into areas with greater housing values. Over the same years, other fires often occurred in higher elevation forests, were more sensitive to how old the vegetation was, lasted for extended periods, and accounted for 70% of total suppression costs.  In other words, other fires burned in remote forests, often with plenty of mature vegetation or ‘fuel’ for long-lasting wildfires. Whereas Santa Ana influenced fires scorched with greater speed through areas that were typically closer to more people. Read more >

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No, Natural Gas Power Plants Are Not Clean

You may have heard that natural gas is “clean.” Compared to coal, natural gas produces less global warming emissions and air pollution. But coal is just about the dirtiest way to produce electricity, so almost anything will seem cleaner in comparison. The fact of the matter is that natural gas power plants still produce a significant amount of air pollution, and that’s a problem.

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