The California Public Utilities Commission said it approved expanding storage at the Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Storage Facility in Los Angeles County “to meet the existing needs and maintain energy reliability” — a concern that intensified after last summer’s rolling blackouts. In August, when Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled a cash for energy conservation program, he warned that California could face a deficit of 5,000 megawatts by next summer — enough to power 5.2 million homes.
Also in Scotland, state Sen. Josh Becker held a Thursday press conference to emphasize that California needs to move a lot faster to meet its climate goals. The Menlo Park Democrat also unveiled two bills he plans to introduce at the start of the legislative session in January: one that would require the state government to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035 and another that would accelerate the development of clean-energy projects by cutting “red tape.”
I asked Becker by phone Thursday if he believes that some of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recent executive orders — such as banning the production of new gas-powered cars by 2035 and phasing out fracking by 2045 — address climate change with enough urgency.
Becker also told me about a travel snarl that rivals Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis’: More than two days after his arrival in Scotland, his suitcase is nowhere to be found, forcing him to buy “a suit, two shirts, a bunch of ties, shoes, the whole thing. … I had to get my pants tailored this morning.” He added he was “swapping stories” with the head of Southern California Edison, whose bag was apparently also lost, sending him to the tailor’s as well.
Advocacy groups are calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to investigate the nasty odor that has plagued the city of Carson for a month.
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The coronavirus bottom line: As of Wednesday, California had 4,680,273confirmed cases(+0.2% from previous day) and 71,759 deaths(+0.2% from previous day), according to state data. CalMatters is also tracking coronavirus hospitalizations by county.
From CalMatters health reporter Kristen Hwang: More than 28,000 nurses and other health care workers employed by Kaiser Permanente Southern California delivered a 10-day strike notice to the industry giant Thursday, signaling the start of what could be the country’s largest work stoppage this year. The issues that workers say could push them onto the picket line as early as Nov. 15: a proposed two-tier wage structure and pandemic-exacerbated worker shortfalls that saw nearly one-third of all California hospitals report critical staffing shortages last month. Hundreds of hospital engineers at Northern California Kaiser facilities have been on strike since mid-September, and hundreds of nurses at other California hospitals — including USC’s Keck Hospital, San Francisco’s Chinese Hospital and Riverside Community Hospital — staged strikes over the summer due to inadequate staffing and safety concerns.
Meanwhile, California’s new unemployment claims continue to skyrocket higher, with more than 62,000 residents filing new jobless claims for the week ending Oct. 30 — an increase of nearly 2,500 from the week before, according to federal data released Thursday. The trend is especially concerning when compared with the country as a whole: Nationally, new unemployment claims for the week ending Oct. 30 fell to their lowest level since the pandemic hit. But things may be even worse in California than they seem: A new study from the Ludwig Institute for Shared Economic Prosperity found that a whopping 26% of California workers are functionally unemployed — meaning they’re seeking, but unable to find, full-time employment paying above the poverty level, the Mercury News’ Jesse Bedayn reports for CalMatters’ California Divide project.
LISEP chairman Gene Ludwig: “We are headed down a path that, if we don’t deal with these problems, we will see serious social unrest.”
2.Can California unclog its ports?
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, still crowing over Elon Musk’s decision to relocate Tesla’s headquarters from Menlo Park to Austin, wants to rub salt even deeper in California’s wound by rerouting container ships stuck in record backlogs at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports to Houston. “Choose a state that doesn’t see inflation and America’s supply-chain backlog as a good thing,” he tweeted this week. “Escape California, everyone is doing it!” But how much can California actually do to unsnarl the global supply chain and clear the logjam of cargo ships at its ports? As it turns out, not much, CalMatters’ Grace Gedye reports. And some of the possible solutions within its power — such as growing the truck driving workforce or developing an inland port — could take years.
Some California prison inmates who work in fire camps are seeing their release dates pushed back — prompting them to believe that the state is trying to keep them incarcerated longer so they can fight more wildfires, the Sacramento Bee reports. Some inmate firefighters — who are paid between $2.90 and $5.12 per day plus another $1 for each hour they’re working a blaze — say they’re stuck in prison despite documents showing they have zero days left to serve.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said McGivern’s claim is “categorically false” and that release date calculations have been complicated by a controversial May rule change that could speed up the release of 76,000 inmates. Inmate firefighters will ultimately see a “sooner release date,” the prison department said.