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Al Gore Joins Villaraigosa in Supporting Carbon Surcharge, Garcetti Not Happy With Mayor's Bankruptcy Ploy

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Photo by clownfish via Flickr

Photo by clownfish via Flickr
As expected, former Vice President Al Gore praised Mayor Villaraigosa for his carbon surcharge, which would, in part, move Los Angeles to be using 20% renewable energy by the end of this year. The plan, which the Mayor says will only increase bills a few bucks for the majority of residents, was approved by the Board of Water and Power Commission last week.

“The Carbon Reduction Surcharge is one of the most forward-thinking clean energy plans I have ever seen,” said former Vice President Gore via satellite from his home in Nashville. “Not only does it create a trust fund to invest in clean, green energy, but it will also create jobs and kick-start the green economy in LA. I hope the Los Angeles City Council supports this Carbon Reduction proposal. Los Angeles' efforts and the Mayor's leadership in fighting for and investing in America’s clean energy future should be applauded.”

The City Council, however, voted to assert jurisdiction over the matter, a move based on law that enables them to either approve or deny--note, they cannot amend the surcharge plan--decisions by the Board of Water & Power Commission. Before the council discussed asserted jurisdiction on Tuesday, Villaraigosa's office sent a memo to councilmembers outlining what denying could mean for the city. Basically, bankruptcy.

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Council President Eric Garcetti, who supports clean energy, responded with strong words, calling the memo "a gun to our head." "Some of the language we received in a briefing is clumsy and condescending. Don't tell us that the quickest that we're going to go bankrupt is to turn this away." But he also warned against myths, such as the surcharge being a raise for overpaid workers. "That's a lie," he stated, continuing to outline the surcharge's other purposes. "This is about more than just clean energy, it's also about making sure we have a financially strong utility." Approving the surcharge would help the LADWP's bond rating.

Mary Nichols, the Chair of the California Air Resources Board also joined Gore in supporting the surcharge, noting how it fits into AB32, which mandates clean energy or faces heavy fines. Villaraigosa says those fines could reach into the hundreds of millions. Nichols said "reducing greenhouse gases under AB32 cannot be achieved without a coordinated and consistent effort of those in all economic sectors and with government at all levels. The California Air Resources Board has made it a priority to work with local governments to promote broad-scale planning and early actions to reduce emissions."