Last week, I heard some upsetting news: a new, polluting, expensive and entirely unnecessary power plant might be built near my community. The California Public Utilities Commission - the state agency that's supposed to ensure that our energy companies like San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) prioritize clean energy - made a proposal to approve SDG&E's polluting fossil fuel power plant called Pio Pico in Otay Mesa— just a few miles away from my house.

Luz grankidsI'm already concerned about the current high levels of air pollution—some of the worst in the state— and the health problems that pollution brings to my community. If approved, Pio Pico would add even more pollution— the same amount as 170,000 cars- each year for 25 years. That could have a negative impact on the health of our children and make climate change worse. My grandchildren already have asthma and I don't want them exposed to even more pollution from a new dirty power plant.

In addition to the pollution damage to my community, SDG&E wants to raise our energy bills to pay $1.6 Billion for this dirty energy. My neighbors have made it clear that they want a clean energy source and are willing to pay a little more for clean energy in their neighborhoods. But they certainly don't want more dirty energy and more pollution. Latino voters from all over Southern California have said the same thing- we want clean energy now.

What really angers me is that this power plant is entirely unnecessary. We have enough energy from renewable resources, efficiency, energy storage and other clean sources now and in the future to cost-effectively and reliable meet our energy needs. Which is exactly why I don't understand how the state regulators can allow SDG&E to dump this polluting power plant in South Bay. We already have several power plants and transmission lines and terrible air quality, now this?

Join me in saying NO to another polluting power plant and demanding that government agencies and officials protect the health of our communities! Join me in taking action:

  • Sign this petition to tell our state's energy regulators you don't want the polluting Pio Pico power plant in San Diego!
  • Sign this letter to elected officials who represent the South Bay area to ask them to take a stand!

Thank you.

Last month, under the leadership of Ann Moore, the San Diego Unified Port District took a big step towards addressing climate change and pollution in San Diego when the Board of Port Commissioners unanimously adopted a Climate Action Plan.

port sunsetThe plan is so significant because it charts a course of action to lower the Port's greenhouse gas emissions-- the pollution responsible for causing climate change -- and sets an example for the rest of San Diego. Climate change and pollution from the Port both have huge health impacts on the region, especially neighboring low-income communities of color. With its location along the waterfront, as a center and facilitator of global goods shipping and a home to a mix of heavy, polluting industries as well as waterfront tourism businesses, the Port stands as a cause of climate change as well as a future victim.

Specifically, the Port's climate plan sets targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2035 and identifies strategies that may be used to reduce emissions from the Port and the 600 bayfront businesses to which the Port is a landlord. Some such strategies include:

• Making new and existing buildings more efficient
• Generating renewable energy along the bayfront
• Increasing use of clean vehicles, vessels and machinery

Next steps for the Port's climate plan will be identifying which specific emissions reductions strategies the Port will prioritize for implementing in 2014. Meanwhile, we'll continue urging the Port to take meaningful actions to ensure community health is at the forefront of Port decisions and the necessary actions are taken to achieve climate stability in San Diego. 

We've worked diligently over the past three years to ensure that the Port, landlord for many of the largest polluters in the region, secures adoption of a plan, and we applaud the Board of Port Commissioners for unanimously supporting it. Now, we can't wait to see this vision for San Diego's sustainable future put into action.

Power plants make our neighborhoods sick. Simple as that. They emit dangerous toxic pollution into our air making it hard for us to breathe, and making our families, our communities and our planet sick. 

SIGN THIS PETITION TO TELL CALIFORNIA'S ENERGY REGULATORS WE DON'T WANT PIO PICO.

SIGN THIS LETTER TO ASK SOUTH BAY ELECTED OFFICIALS TO TAKE A STAND AGAINST DIRTY AIR IN OUR COMMUNITIES.

Now, a new power plant is being proposed in San Diego by SDG&E. If approved, the new plant, titled Pio Pico, will operate in Otay Mesa -- a 2/3 Latino area already burdened with toxic waste and ranked in the top 20 percent of most polluted zip codes in the state. The location is only 1.3 miles from Tijuana - home to one million people.

Strela-No-Power-Plant-SIMPLEThe chemicals produced from Pio Pico, known as "particulate matter" are directly linked to respiratory illnesses, such as asthma. Over time, residents may experience school absences, lost work days, hospital admissions, asthma diagnoses and in some severe cases, even death.

The monetary harm will also be substantial, as Pio Pico will cost SDG&E customers $1.6 billion. And that is a fact.

Irreversable damage will be done to our communities. The amount of poisonous air from Pio Pico is equal to the annual emissions of 129,584 gasoline-powered cars or nearly 70 million gallons of gasoline. San Diegans will face costly bills, asthma hospitalizations and increased environmental impacts of climate change such as forest fires, sea level rise, drought and heat waves. (Read more about the causes and effects of climate change here.)

And once it's built, it's not coming down for a long, long time -- if at all. Pio Pico's contract is 25 years, meaning it will continue to physically harm and pollute the already dumped on neighboring communities for a quarter of a decade.

Is this how you see your future? 

If not, sign this petition to oppose Pio Pico and make your voice heard for healthy neighborhoods and breathable air now and for generations to come and read more about Pio Pico and your community. There is a better way.

We all have questions about climate change, especially regarding what's happening here in San Diego. Well you asked, and we deliver. Below we chat with EHC Policy Advocate Kayla Race on what causes climate change in San Diego, the implications it will have on our lives and what we can do to keep it from getting worse.

What are global warming and climate change? 

What causes global warming and climate change?

How will San Diegans be affected? 

Will some communities be impacted more than others? 

What is San Diego doing about climate change?

Can we do anything to reduce our risk? 

How can I help?

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What are global warming and climate change?

Global warming is the recent and ongoing increase in global average temperature, causing climate patterns around the world to change. Global warming represents just one aspect of climate change, which refers to significant changes in climate that occur over several decades or longer. (back to top)

What causes global warming and climate change?

Global warming and climate change are caused mostly by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases—such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and certain synthetic chemicals—in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases trap heat in our atmosphere and make the planet warmer, hence the term "global warming." 

Over the past 200 years, concentrations of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere have increased significantly and at an alarming rate, mostly due to human activities like burning fossil fuels to produce energy and power cars and trucks, industrial processes, some agricultural practices and deforestation. Although greenhouse gases are naturally occurring, the unnaturally large increase that has occurred over a relatively short period of time in history will result in dangerous impacts to human health, safety and ecosystems. (back to top)

How will San Diegans be affected? 

Although it is difficult to predict the exact impacts of climate change in San Diego, it is clear that the climate to which we are accustomed is no longer a reliable guide for what to expect in the future, and we should prepare for threats to our infrastructure, our safety, our economy, and our health.

In fact, the California Department of Public Health and the American Public Health Association have identified climate change as one of the most serious public health threats facing our nation, warning that the impacts are occurring sooner than expected.

Some impacts San Diegans are likely to see are:

  • More frequent, intense, and prolonged heat waves and impair air quality, which puts public health at risk
  • Dwindling freshwater supplies and increased water costs
  • More frequent and intense wildfires
  • More frequent and intense storms
  • Potential disruptions in electricity
  • Stress on our agricultural industry and resulting rising food prices
  • Native plant and animal species emigrating from the region or reduce populations
  • Rising sea levels that threaten communities and businesses near our coastline

(More about climate change impacts in the Southwestern U.S.)

Will some communities be impacted more than others? 

marianalopezkids1

Yes. Low-income communities of color such as Barrio Logan, Sherman Heights, City Heights and National City will be hit first and worst by the impacts of climate change. These neighborhoods already suffer the health consequences of the region's pollution and they lack community resources such as healthcare, air conditioning, urban parks and tree canopy and transportation, making it challenging to cope with worsening conditions.

We have actually already seen climate change disproportionately impact disadvantaged communities. During California's heat wave of 2006, 99 percent of the associated deaths occurred in zip codes where more than half of residents were below the poverty line. (back to top)

What is San Diego doing about climate change?

The City of San Diego is in the process of developing a climate action plan for reducing the pollution that causes climate change, and preparing residents, businesses, and our natural resources for the impacts of climate change. The Port of San Diego adopted a Climate Action Plan in 2013 and is working to implement the plan now.

Stay tuned for more updates on the City and Port of San Diego's Climate Plan progress. (back to top)

Can we do anything to reduce our risk?

Yes! Do you want the good news or bad news first?

The bad news is carbon dioxide can stay in the atmosphere for nearly a century, meaning Earth will continue to warm in the coming decades. So the choices we make today--from how we use and produce energy, to how we travel, to the food and goods we purchase-- all affect the amount of greenhouse gases that stay in our atmosphere for years to come.

The good news is, San Diego can reduce its risk if we act now to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and properly prepare for changes that are already underway!

What can I do to help?

We have many solutions within our grasp to reduce pollution and secure a healthier future for our planet.  

  • We can install solar panels on our rooftops and in our parking lots to reduce our reliance on dirty energy while creating local jobs at the same time. 
  • We can make our buildings more energy and water efficient, build better transit and make neighborhoods more walkable and bikeable, resulting in fewer car emissions. 
  • Reduce your daily impact on climate change at home and at work with small changes to daily habits -- like turning off lights and electronics and taking shorter showers.
  • Get the News and Alerts to Take Action: Subscribe to our email newsletter for all our upcoming opportunities to attend a public meeting or send a letter to tell City Council and Port Commissioners you want an enforceable plan that will improve our air quality and make our communities more resilient against climate change
  • Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay in the know with energy news and upcoming advocacy opportunities
  • Donate to EHC to help us continue our work promoting climate action solutions
  • Reduce energy and water use in your home by following these tips

GEGJ&SC CEC-CPUC 7-15-13.jpg largeOn Monday, July 15, EHC's Green Energy/Green Jobs staff and community members made the trek to Los Angeles to ask the California Public Utilities Commission and the California Energy Commission for a cleaner energy future.

The hearing was jointly held on Southern California's energy future following the permanent closure of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS). We were joined by our allies at Sierra Club and Communities for a Better Environment.

The message we heard from our state agencies and utilities was clear-- they want to stick to their old ways of building dirty gas plants, no matter the cost to our health, our environment, our climate, and our future.

We're counting on you to help us continue pushing for a healthier, smarter energy future!