Pacific Swell

Southern California environment news and trends

The mayor's coal goals

You may have seen this poster around town lately - I first noticed it on a fence at Second and Beaudry, near KPCC's offices.

It's referring to a goal Mayor Villaraigosa laid out at his second swearing-in, just a little way back. Villaraigosa announced his intention to eliminate coal from the city of LA's power portfolio by 2020. The move won him accolades from the Sierra Club, and international attention. As for this poster, you have to get close, but if you look down in a corner, you see who paid for it:

REAP is the Renewable Energy Accountability Project, formed by Prop 7 backer Jim Gonzalez.

According to the REAP website, Principal Emeritus for REAP is S. David Freeman, who currently serves the city of Los Angeles as the deputy mayor for energy and the environment. In other words, one of the guys who's helping guide the city of Los Angeles to make the decisions for which the mayor is being congratulated.

Gonzalez says he wants to make it clear, he did this all by himself - without the consultation of Freeman or Villaraigosa. In a phone interview, he called the announcement a "breakthrough" and said what the mayor's doing is "putting a stake in the heart of coal."

REAP, he says, is a continuation of the political and grassroots organization he put together for Proposition 7. They're targeting coal. Gonzalez points out the LADWP isn't the only coal-powered utility on the block. Pasadena and some smaller municipal utilities still draw power with a Utah coal-fired plant. (Pasadena's power was 62% coal in the last quarter of '08; like DWP, Pasadena offers residential green power options, where customers can pay a premium for renewable energy.)

I asked Gonzalez whether he placed signs in the other coal-fired communities he mentioned. He said he had just been turned down by the Burbank Airport. Apparently, Burbank's concerned travelers will be confused about just what city Villaraigosa is mayor of.

p.s. For about a week at Second and Beaudry, the poster had been augmented:

It's not entirely clear whether that's a direction to or from the mayor, but it's irrelevant now: the addition's been taken down. Score one for the Clean Team?

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