Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, former Vice President Al Gore, and Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune gathered at the LA Department of Water and Power to announce that the city would be coal-free by 2025. Apparently it’s an urgent matter. This “press conference” was part of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal initiative, which aims to replace coal with clean energy sources nationwide. I say “press conference” in quotations because of all the press present – and there was plenty – I was the only journalist to ask a question.
The city derives 40% of its energy from two out-of-state power plants in Arizona and Utah. During his speech, Mayor Villaraigosa said that energy would be replaced with wind, solar, and natural gas. I wanted to know if the city planned to obtain that natural gas through fracking. This controversial method of extracting oil and natural gas from deep in the ground with pressurized water and many carcinogenic chemicals is already happening in LA communities like Baldwin Hills and Culver City. It’s not exactly a clean energy replacement.
Villaraigosa, astoundingly, said no. I followed up with him afterwards to get confirmation of his statement, which he re-affirmed, though qualified with “at that site, no,” referring to the Utah coal plant that will be transitioned to natural gas. Shortly thereafter, I was approached by Mayor Villaraigosa’s press secretary, who offered to have him do a follow-up to clarify his remarks.
Stay tuned for updates… Watch the video below for my question and interview…
Saturday, 24 March 2013