The Los Angeles City Council took an early step Friday toward moving the city off fossil fuels and onto 100 percent renewable energy.
On a 12-3 vote, the council passed a motion calling for the L.A. Department of Water and Power, along with a coalition of energy experts and local universities, to create a roadmap to independence from coal, oil and natural gas.
Councilman Mike Bonin, who co-wrote the legislation, told KPCC that this approach is better than just assigning the utility some target date for switching to renewables, because they might not meet it.
Bonin said he thinks the department has made some improvements over the past decade, like stepping away from coal to cleaner sources of energy, but it's not enough.
"We are still very, very reliant upon natural gas, which is not clean and is not safe,” he said.
Bonin said he feared if action isn't taken, the coastal area of the city that he represents will be under water in a couple of decades.
“For the third year running, Los Angeles was ranked as having the worst air pollution in the country, which is unacceptable and unhealthy for our families and neighborhoods," Councilmember Paul Krekorian, who co-wrote the motion with Bonin, said in a written statement. "Our legislation provides a pathway to 100 percent clean energy in Los Angeles, which will reduce greenhouse emissions, cut pollution and lead the city toward greater energy efficiency.”
The goal of complete independence from natural gas is lofty, but if it's going to happen anywhere, Bonin said, it'll happen in L.A.
"We like to say that the winds blow in the United States from the west to the east, and we were one of the first to do a $15 minimum wage. We've taken some leadership on doing some groundbreaking gun control legislation — this kind of falls in the same category," he said.
As far as when that moment of energy independence will arrive, he said it's hard to say until the coalition is formed and the research is done.
This story has been updated.