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A Climate Change with Matt Matern Climate Podcast

Episode 55: Senator Ben Allen

Guest Name(s): Ben Allen

Check out the latest episode for a lively and insightful political and environmentally focused conversation with Senator Ben Allen.

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California State Senator Ben Allen was elected in 2014 (and reelected in 2018) to represent the 26th Senate District covering the Westside, Hollywood, and coastal South Bay communities of Los Angeles County. Ben chairs the Senate’s Environmental Quality Committee and co-chairs the Legislature’s Environmental Caucus, is a member of the Legislative Jewish Caucus, chairs the Legislature’s Joint Committee on the Arts, and the Senate Select Committee on Aerospace and Defense. He previously served as Chair of the Education Committee (2017-2019) and Chair of the Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee (2015-2016).
Episode 55: Senator Ben Allen, 26th Senate District
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You’re listening to Unite and Heal America on KBC 790. This is Matt Matern, your host. And we’ve got a special guest on the program today, California Senator Ben Allen. Welcome to the program. Welcome back, I should say, because you were on last year, and we had a great, great show, great time talking with your senator.

I was it’s so great to see you, Matt.

Well, thanks, again for being on the show. Last time, we talked about the waste reduction package. What happened? And where are we now?

Well, I’m happy to report we had a lot of success. You know, of course, we were, we were trying to get some rules in place to help address the proliferation of plastic pollution, but also create some legislation that would that would help make our system work better. So one example is my SB 343. That was signed into into law that expands the environmental truth and advertising rule. So that basically, if an item is not truly recyclable, you shouldn’t be able to put the recycling symbol on your item.

So many people were seeing those chasing arrows that chasing euro symbol on on on a plastic item, for example, dutifully putting it in the recycling bin. And of course, in the end of the day, the item was not actually getting recycled. In fact, if anything, the inclusion of the item in the recycling system was making the system work in an even more dysfunctional way than it already does. So.

So we got that through graduations on that, by the way, well done. Because there’s, you know, that’s a that’s a disaster scenario that we have all these products mislabeled, recyclable, and they’re jamming up the work, it’s terrible. So that’s a that’s a great step in the right direction. I think it’s, it’s kind of revolutionary, quite frankly, because it puts us on the right path.

It puts us on the right path, Matt, but ultimately, it doesn’t do enough. I mean, I’m so proud of that bill. But But if anything, it’s a perfect example of how we’ve put all of the burden on the consumers in this space. Now, at the very least, this bill now allows you gives gives real information to consumers, or at least it doesn’t allow for consumers to be actively deceived, in the recycling space.

But but at the same time, you know, the real low hanging fruit in this area is on the producer side, you know, as much as we like to think that consumers can can solve this problem. It’s the producers who ultimately have the power over the products that they’re putting out in the market.

And their producers who makes decisions to change the resin type on a particular on a particular product, for example, rendering that product, you know, there was there was an example there was a detergent bottle manufacturer who made a decision to change the resin which basically made the bottle it rendered it went from from totally recyclable to non recyclable, but they have no skin in the game.

There’s no accountability associated with the decisions that they make in terms of these products that they put out onto the market. And of course, we’re all paying the price, not just environmentally, but we’re also paying more and more in waste management collection fees, you know that the rates just went up here in Sacramento County, you know, 10 bucks a month, because of how much our system is broken, flooded with all this plastic, more and more sophistication needed to try to sort the recycling materials, more and more money being used to pay for more landfills, more leader litter cleanup, and all that’s cost.

It’s being borne by us by ratepayers, and by our local governments that are having to put more money into the space that they should be putting into parks and transportation and programs for youth and seniors.

Can I ask you a question? Why don’t we kind of give attorneys some role in this as to help police says private attorney generals, this whole area so that we could have a whole army of California Attorneys doing something valuable with their time to help clean up our environment? Isn’t it good if we could get that?

I mean, you know, I mean, that would be very difficult to get through the legislature. Because we don’t we don’t have enough regulators to really watch out to all the polluters. I mean, there’s so many people, so many companies that are polluting heavily. I know, we’re going after Exxon, their former they formally owned a refinery in Torrance, that was putting benzene all over the neighborhood.

And yet the regulators really weren’t doing anything to stop it. And I don’t know, I think maybe their budgets are stretched or whatever, but they’re not doing what they need to be doing to stop these major polluters from poisoning our environment.

I couldn’t agree more. I mean, I you know, and I think it’s partly why we have to also beef up our prosecutors, you know, the DEA, the Department of Justice, their environmental crimes units, but I think what we’re so the direction we’re moving on this mat is to try to create a more comprehensive approach to this problem through SP 54, which is an effort that we had that came within inches of passage and during the last session, but basically, you know now about ballot measure has qualified for the ballot initiative that seeks to address this, this, this plastic waste problem by creating really strict waste reduction goals and like a tax for non recyclable plastics that are being pushed out onto them onto the market. It pulls really, really well.

The question is now can we strike a legislative deal, that might be a little bit that industry might be able to agree with, but that might also pass muster with the environmentalists such that we can feel comfortable pulling the ballot measure back along the lines of what we had last year with SB 54? So that’s the question. And we’re now engaged in this real negotiation.

It’s all about creating a comprehensive system, which is to say to the producers, you’ve got to source reduce, you’ve got to start phasing out non recyclable non reusable, non compostable, non biodegradable, single use plastics. And we’ve got to create a system so that in the future, we won’t have these non these bad single use products out on the market that are unnecessary.

And where are we at? Where are we at in the negotiation, Senator?

Very intense, we were you know, we have weekly negotiations, it involves national players, because everyone’s looking at California on this issue, because they realize that we’re going to very likely set the national standard. And the good thing about the ballot measure, it’s created a sense of urgency on the side of industry.

Last session, every time I strike a deal with industry, you know, we’d solve the problem for the, you know, for certain medical products, and we’d solve the problem problem for certain food products, that group would walk away from the negotiation, they would say, Okay, we’re no longer opposed, but they weren’t doing anything to help us get the bill passed.

And there would always be some new industry group that would pop up, that would want to be intransigent, that didn’t want to see any progress on this issue. And ultimately, we weren’t able to get it across the finish line, this time around with a ballot measure out there, the industry folks really don’t like the ballot measure. So the good news is that the ballot measure creates, like a real impetus. Now we on the environmental side, know that, you know, while this ballot measure pulls very well, we also know that if the industry folks spend $100 million on this thing, you know, obfuscating, throwing up lies and telling stories about the ballot measure, it could put the ballot measure in serious jeopardy, and we don’t have that kind of money, we got some money.

And to be honest, there’s some philanthropists and other groups that really do want to put some money into helping get this ballot measure done. But we also know that industry could then just double down and throw in an extra 50 million and an extra 50 million, and do what they’ve done to other progressive measures in the past to defeat them with with a just a just a berry, just bearing it with with it with an aggressive media campaign. So he or she doesn’t want to spend that kind of money, they also don’t want to take a chance. If we, on the environmental side, if we can strike a good enough strong environmental deal, we might as well not take the chance. So that’s really where we are now.

And you know, well, for the love of God strike a strong deal and tell these industry guys say you’re willing to go to the people and you’re confident that we’re going to spread the message that this bill should pass and that we need to take these concerns seriously, because we’re tired of it, we’ve got to set the standard. And California has always set the standard. And this is this is time for leadership and California.

Yet again, couldn’t agree more, Matt, and love to work with you on this going forward to get the word out to people.


This is this is so important. It is the fight for our lives really in a fight, fight for the future of the country, and the future the planet. So, and quite frankly, it’s a good economic move, because we will create the industries of the future if we’re on the cutting edge of reducing race, waste, and creating new environmental products, whether they’re recyclable things or carbon capture products, those are going to be eminently saleable in the future.

So why don’t we get in the vanguard as we have in the past and create those end industries here. And that will create wealth for the state of California.

That’s that’s exactly the vision. That’s exactly the vision and it’s just a matter of, of getting more people aware of this problem and getting more and ultimately getting more my colleagues aware of this problem. And, and, you know, getting them to be thinking broadly about the public interest here and not just about the private interests that spend quite a lot of money lobbying them.

Right. In the short term. It’s always the argument that it’s going to be cost to industry and they threatened that there will be job losses, but in reality they fought every improvement in the environment at every step of the way. Whether it was mileage regulations for cars, catalytic converters and smog for cars, every regulation limiting a toxic fumes into the LA basin that you can take a look at everything.

You’re absolutely right, Matt. And then the truth is, the truth is, is this you know, this reminds me so much of what I grew up in LA, right. So when I was born, the average kid was growing up in certain neighborhoods in LA with half of the lung capacity of kids growing up in rural parts of the country, because the smog was so bad, you know, used to not even be able to see the Hollywood sign. And people said, Enough is enough.

We have to put those kinds of regulations in place to clean up the air. And the truth is, we now have many more cars on the road. And yeah, we have cleaner air than we had in the 70s. So the world didn’t know the sky didn’t fall. And in fact, automobile manufacturing continued. Some of the, you know, the automobile folks kick and scream, but you know what the interesting thing is, Matt, there’s always a certain group of industry that is innovating that knows they need to do better and actually can take advantage of laws like this.

If anything by not moving, we’re not getting rid of packaging and products by doing a bill like this, just like we weren’t getting rid of cars, we forced the industry to get better. All we’re doing is telling is forcing the knuckle draggers, the troglodytes who don’t want to innovate, who don’t want to put in the extra cent, to put in better products. What we’re all we’re doing is basically allowing them to continue their BS business model while they’re there are incredible innovators out there who ought to be incentivized want to be rewarded for producing more environmentally friendly products.

Right. We all know that we can go to the store and we can find environmentally friendly products there out there. But until we make it the absolute standard, there will be the troglodytes who refuse to do this. So you’re listening to Unite and Heal America on CAVC 790. My guest today, Senator Ben Allen. Well, we’re gonna be right back with the senator in just one minute.

You’re listening to Unite and Heal America on CAVC 790. This is Matt Matern, your host, and we got Senator Ben Allen here with us today. And Senator, we were just talking about SB 54, which is about solid waste packaging and products and creating reusable, recyclable and are compostable packaging, for single use, packaging, and particularly for plastics and to reduce by 75%.

The single use plastics by I believe, 2032. What can our listeners out there do to help move the ball here? Because we know that industry and lobbyists are working around the clock to to shut this kind of stuff down? What should citizens be doing?

I think citizens need to inform them themselves about this problem. It’s a real problem. And it’s hitting you in the pocketbook, in addition to our environment. It’s hitting your local governments in the pocketbook, too. And that’s one of the reasons why our cities are so supportive of our efforts. And ultimately, it’s about you know, making sure your legislators, the folks who represent you in Sacramento, know that you care about this issue.

One of the problems with this this work is that, you know, the lobbyists, the industry that the special interest lobbyists, who so have so much power up here in the state capitol, have the power they have here, because they they recognize that that the regular folks are only are not paying attention to 99% of the bills that make their way through MIT, they will make their make their way through here. You know, people have busy lives, and even those that really care about politics, they’re oftentimes focusing on local issues at the city council level or on Washington and all the latest that are happening in Washington, DC and at the Capitol there.

And so, as a result, a lot of times, members of the legislature just don’t hear from their constituents about bills like this. And so it’s important for you to inform yourself and calling reach out to your local legislator, make sure that your legislator knows that you’re paying attention to this, you care about this issue, and that you really care about how they vote on this issue.

Well, yeah, it all boils down to focus. And it’s a question of what we’re focusing on. And so it’s incumbent upon us as citizens to take the time take the effort and pull away from our maybe devices and entertainment for a minute and work on some important issues.

I want to pivot a bit to AB1395, which is the climate crisis crisis act. And basically, my understanding of it is that the intent is to bring down the level of emissions by 40%, below 1990 levels by 2030, and net zero greenhouse gas by 2045. And net negative going forward from that. Tell us what the status is of the bill. And if I got it wrong it to correct it, please.

No, you’re right. I mean, the bill, the bill made it to the Senate floor very last day. We just didn’t have the votes to get it across the finish line. I mean, ultimately, there were just too many industry folks. Some concerns from labor, you know, the folks who worked in the oil industry, who just didn’t want to see the We’ll make it make it across the finish line.

The other really tricky thing that we’re constantly grappling with is, what role should carbon capture play? I think the oil industry and so the folks who work in oil think that this could be an opportunity for them to continue the use of oil fields, but do so in a way that could help the environment. Some folks in the environmental justice community feel as though their communities are the ones that live near oil fields, typically, and will, you know, could be negatively impacted by that.

So, you know, it’s a, it’s basically, in the wake of the defeat of 1395. on the Senate floor, the bill still could be brought up sometime this year, by the way. But But the bill didn’t make it across the finish line, folks went off to Glasgow participated in the cop conference, and all sorts of related climate work. And then the Senate, you know, a lot of the members who really wanted to see the bill passed, were very upset that the bill didn’t pass.

And so the president pro tem of the Senate convened a climate working group to bring folks together to help, you know, help us better tackle the climate crisis. The groups have some significant and robust listening sessions with all sorts of different stakeholder groups from industry, from environmental justice, from environmental groups, from local government, to try to figure out both the obstacles to making progress and also to identify where we may have some common ground.

And now the question is, how do we, you know, well, how do we take all this, all this work all this all this homework to, to both better understand the fault lines? And then how do we make progress in the space. So either it will be through 3095, or a package of bills, or some sort of some sort of new consensus bill that we can push through this year, I do hope that both the IPCC report, and the cop conference that the Glasgow Climate Change Conference, creates the environment where we really feel galvanized, but I gotta say, there continues to be some real challenges.

And I bring up labor, I think that’s one of the many challenges we have, there are a lot of folks who are working in the building trades sector, who have been working in the fossil fuel industry for many years, they’ve got strong collective bargaining agreements, and they’re really reluctant to see policies passed that, that may call into question, the fossil fuel industry. And so that’s one of the you know, and of course, labor folks have a lot of, of strength and influence within the Democratic Party and Democratic colleagues.

Of course, the oil industry folks have a lot of strength in power with some of the Democratic colleagues and certainly with Republican colleagues. So that’s one of the challenges that we have moving forward. And, you know, I’ve done a meeting with some environmental groups, and one of these we’re talking about is how do we make this just transition real? How do we create a space for workers to feel comfortable? And current? You know, from my perspective, in the end of the day, it’s about transitioning.

Right? I mean, you know, it’s not we’re not going to turn off a light on fossil fuels tonight or tomorrow, you know, and I, how do we, how do we, you know, I think that there’s, there’s, there’s got to be a path here, where the older workers will continue to be able to work with the fossil fuels, will do, we’ll just have more and more of the younger workers working in the clean sector, in the clean energy sector.

And of course, you know, how do we also ensure the labor folks that they’re gonna feel comfortable that these clean energy jobs will be good jobs that will be well paid, that will treat people right, you know, that, you know, in many respects, will be union jobs. That’s what Joe Biden keeps talking about, you know, so. So there’s got to be a path here, but it’s a tough path. And and it’s a potentially expensive path.

And so this is what we’re grappling with right now, what to what about some kind of fund that would, would basically ensure that anybody who is working in the oil industry, or other dirtier industries would would get kind of transition to, to a cleaner energy job or to another type of job?

So that, you know, there wouldn’t be a loss there? I mean, we’ve got a major surplus in the state of California, it seems like some of it could be spent in this area to kind of give the kind of guarantees that that then the union folks would then be willing to give their assent to.

Yeah, I mean, look, I think their their, their nervousness is always going to be you take a guy who’s been working in the oil fields for a long, long time, it’s hard to retrain them. We saw this with the coal industry. And how much decimation the collapse the coal industry has led to the socio economics of places like West Virginia and other places in Appalachia? I mean, I think it kind of gets back to what I was talking about earlier, which is to say, yes, we need money.

We need money we need to find to help with this transition. But I actually don’t know that we necessarily need to transition all these older, all these older guys who are out there working in the oil fields, there’s still going to be a need for oil in 1020 years, unfortunately, my hope is that this will be less of a need for oil. And as as those folks get closer and closer to retirement age, the the hopefully we can figure out a way to naturally face them face their jobs out as they are as they’re retiring.

And we but the key thing here is that we find a path for the younger folks, the newer folks to make their way into good high quality cleaning. big jobs. And so part of the cost, quite frankly, will be it will involve finding new paths for good, high quality, clean energy jobs for the next generation of Skilled Trades Union work to find its way into.

Now, in terms of carbon capture, it does seem to me like that is going to be part of the solution. And what, what is the state of California doing to encourage that? I mean, we’ve got some of the best research universities on the planet. And what can we do to kind of jumpstart that and, and make California kind of the hub of carbon capture?

Yeah, so I, I think it’s a good question. I think that the so I, that’s certainly one of the many things that we’re talking about in this working group. I’m a member of the working group. You know, Bob Hertzberg is very interested in this issue. He’s the, the, you know, just stepping down, but he was our Senate Majority Leader, former Assembly Speaker very interesting this space. The oil folks are really interested in the labor folks are really interested in this.

Now, the question, the one of the biggest challenges right now we have is with the environmental justice folks who are deeply skeptical. I think they think that this is a an untested technology, that there could be all sorts of unforeseen consequences that we’re not because ultimately, what you’re talking about is taking toxins and injecting them into the ground, you know, to fill the old oil wells. And so the question is, you know, is that is that something? Will there be leaks?

You know, will there continue to be pollution associated with that activity, and who will bear the brunt of that pollution? And the environmental justice folks say, the communities that they represent, and they care about will be the ones most likely to bear the brunt of that, that pollution? So how do we figure out a way to and you say, like, we’ve got these great universities, we need the best minds and scientists working on finding a way to do this in a way that is truly safe, truly safe in local communities truly safer environment.

Sure, and I’ve, you know, read a bit about it. And it seems as though say, like in North Dakota, they’ve got geological structures that could hold basically all the carbon we’d need to capture eventually. So it isn’t a perfect technology. Of course, it hasn’t been proven. But given the consequences to the entire planet, if we don’t get this under control, it seems as though it’s a it’s a risk worth taking. Because we don’t, we have no perfect path. There are no perfect paths to solving this problem. We have to make some compromises to have this work.

I agree with you. And you know, I agree with you. And part of our job is threatening these tough needles that you brought up at 3095 and carbon capture. The funny thing about up 3095 Is that for the building trades, folks, it wasn’t Pro Carbon capture enough. And for the environmental justice folks who ultimately oppose the bill to it was to Pro Carbon capture.

So yeah, but that’s part of this, this carbon capture issue is going to be one of the one of the tricky, but I think most important parts of our climate Working Group at work is to figure out a way to thread this needle.

Well, you’re listening to KBC 790. This is Matt Matern, your host of Unite and Heal America. I’ve got Senator Ben Allen on and we’re gonna be right back in just one minute talking about our environmental issues, including carbon capture, and we’ll be back.

You’re listening to Unite and Heal America and KVC 790. This is Matt Matern, your host and I’ve got Senator Ben Allen. And Senator just wanted to bring up a question I’ve asked a number of people on the show, which is what are your top five ideas for solving the problem of global warming? And since you’re a senator here in California, I’ll have you focus on that, but also asked you nationally, and I guess globally, how to deal with it. But it’s always helpful to kind of focus on what we can do, and you’re certainly at the forefront of what we can do here in California.

Okay. So I think, let’s start by saying that this is an enormous existential crisis. And we really are heading toward disaster on our current pace. Now, let’s also say that, that so many of the solutions to this crisis don’t really ultimately have to seriously impact people’s lifestyles.

And so let me explain this. When you walk into a room and turn on the light, you don’t care whether your electricity was sourced from coal, or from solar, I know you care, Matt, but the average person just wants to make sure the light turns on.

Right, so the truth is, if we can figure out a way to shift our energy procurement, whether it be the electricity in our in our rooms, whether it be the fuel, whether it electric, or or whatever else, for our automobiles, or our airplanes, right, I mean, you don’t care whether your airplane, they now have electric airplanes that they’re starting to come out in, no in zero emission, you know, natural gas, airplanes that have actually started to go between San Francisco and Los Angeles, you just want to make sure you’re playing get safely to the destination.

That’s what you care about. So in the end of the day, so many of these of these things that we need to do, will not actually in a dramatic way, impact people’s personal lives, right, there’s going to get in there at play, they’re going to turn on their life, they’re going to get in their car, and hopefully, you know, the it’ll it’ll the all they care about is that the system works well. And hopefully, you know, it’s our job ultimately, to shift the sourcing of the energy from, from from carbon intensive to, to clean.

One significant area that will involve a change in behavior is meat and dairy consumption. We all know that meat and dairy, the cattle industry is a huge global climate change driver. And so that’s going to be a tough thing for a lot of people to get their heads around. Now on all the other stuff, it really ultimately comes down to infrastructure, technology, you know, how do we really scale solar?

How do we really scale energy storage? How do we really scale the transmission of a clean energy system? How do we transition those workers, that was we discussed earlier, and that’s going to take pressure, determination, grit and courage on the part of elected officials and pressure from their constituents.

Unfortunately, the entrenched special interests who have you know, have have have a have a vested interest in keeping things the way they are, have a lot of power over the political process. But the good news is, all of them have the ability to transition toward clean energy. And in fact, many of them are, many of the biggest oil companies are also heavily invested in clean energy. And so but they’re also sitting on all these oil assets.

So it’s up to us ultimately, right, just like we talked about with plastics earlier, I’m not trying to get rid of packaging and products, I’m just trying to tell the producers you, you need to, you need to behave in a more sustainable manner. Similarly, energy companies, you just have to start behaving in a more environmentally friendly manner. start transitioning your investments, your procurement, your your your r&d toward clean energy, you can still be you had handed the game in this space.

But we as elected officials are going to have to put we as a society are going to have to tell you that you have to make the transition. But here’s the problem, they’re not going to do it on their own. And in fact, they’re going to fight us as we try to push them to make the transition.

So it’s ultimately gonna take people power, pushing elected officials, electing elected officials, who are willing to take them on who are willing to push them, and then we’ll transition them. That’s what it’s all going to be about.

Yeah, it’s, it’s, it obviously has to come from the people pushing for these changes. You talked about a number of things, one of them, which is scaling solar, and and also kind of having the power storage capacity to, to store this solar energy. Because as we know, when the sun sets, the solar stops, and we’ve got to have a place to store it.

I was reading recently about some technology that’s been around for 100 years, which is putting the water into reservoirs, pumping it up, and then pumping it down to have the power released during the evening hours. And we certainly have a number of facilities or places that we could do that I believe in the state of California. Do you know what the efforts are currently to roll that out here?

Yeah, I know there’s some work happening up like around Lake iStick. You know, there are some efforts to try to do that over in Eagle Mountain. And one of the concerns out there is that it could really impact the very delicate, local watershed. But there are some areas where, you know, I know that this is something that that le DWP is super interested in and they are working on on a place out in Utah to do just that. but also places around the around the basin.

You know, ultimately, it’s about finding places that have, you know, good amounts of water, but they don’t it doesn’t necessarily have to be as plentiful as you might think. And it Yeah, you’re absolutely right. It takes advantage of the fact that we are producing that we already are. But but we will. As we proceed, we will continue to produce too much energy during the day, when the sun is up on sunny days, there’ll be all this extra solar energy.

So instead of just wasting the energy, you will, let’s use it let’s pump the water let’s turn it into an energy source at night when the water comes back down the hill. So la DWP is working a lot in this space. And in fact, maybe a future interview could be with the head of de la DWP, I got a chance to sit down with him on a you know, between Christmas and New Year’s as a real slow day we I went to his office, fascinating guy, and he will talk you through this in a very engaging way.

That sounds like a plan. I appreciate the heads up. But yeah, because we do need to solve this problem. And it it sounds like the it is solvable that the good news is that it isn’t some technology that we’ve never used before, we just have to kind of make some choices and pick some spots to do it. And as you said, it doesn’t take a huge amount of water per person, I read that it was three liters of water per person, per day.

So it isn’t, it isn’t an enormous amount of consumption of water. And from what I understand, we’re having runoff when it rains a lot up to 98 billion or trillion gallons of water in LA, because we can’t capture all that water. So there’s not a shortage of we could we could capture that water. And we could use it for this purpose.

Yep, yep. I’m excited about it. And as I say, talk to Marty, I really think you’d enjoy talking to him on the show. In fact, he’s got a very interesting guy. And they’re doing some good work over there.

What, what do you see happening on the meat and dairy consumption? Is that something that California is considering doing or addressing in some way shape or form? Or are we just kind of letting it play out to individuals?

Actually, let me let me let me, let me continue to be an optimist and say that there’s actually some really good. So not only is there some really exciting, innovative stuff happening in the, in the alternative to meat space, if you know, I love I mean, I just haven’t. And by the way, I’m not a vegetarian, but I’m certainly I love trying out these new products. I’m trying to transition myself.

But the Impossible Burger, for example, is just absolutely delicious. And there’s more of that kind of stuff making its way through the pike. But I also say, from a pure climate change perspective, there’s some new innovative stuff happening in the in the emission space with regards to cattle. Apparently, if you feed cows, a certain type of algae, which is very easy to replicate and grow, it will dramatically reduce the amount of methane that the cows emit. And it just has to do with their internal combustion within their within their their four stomachs. So by putting this particular algae product into their food, it doesn’t impact the quality of the meat of the milk at all.

But it dramatically reduces their methane emissions. So that’s a space where we could, that’s another thing we’re actually looking at, in the Climate Group. And I think that’s an area where we could be spending where we ought to be putting some some time and energy.

That’s, that’s a great development. And I think that that’s the kind of thing that you expect is that when we make kind of changes, and we put some more focus and energy on these problems, brilliant scientists come up with these solutions. So the more we can focus our energy and attention and say, Hey, this is something we need to solve.

And we will encourage the market to do so. That’s if anything, the beauty of the capitalist market is that it rewards products that address needs. So if we create a need and use the forces of the market it for good, except the one problem is on environmental stuff, it takes government stepping in to to to ensure that the public’s needs are really being met.

One of the problems with environmental laws you talk about a lot is that, you know, there’s no there’s a so often it’s a free rider, right? It’s a freeloader problem where a polluter doesn’t have any consequences for polluting and go and then they take the extra money they make off of that special place they have and lobby government to not regulate them, and then of course beat their other competitors who are doing it cleanly and greenly they’ll make more profits than them.

And then we’ll drive up the green premium versus if we have a reasonable regulation that affects everybody the same way, then that is a fair playing field for the market, and then the market can adjust to it. And so yes, all of our markets are regulated. So when friends of mine who are free market people, I say, you know, show me a market that’s not regulated, the securities market is very highly regulated. That way, we have some trust in the securities market.

Obviously, if, if you could sell a stock wouldn’t lie about it up one wall and down the other. You know, our grandmothers wouldn’t be safe because a lot of predators would be out there lying, cheating, stealing, so, of course, it has to be regulation, but you’re listening to Unite and Heal America. KBC 790, my guest again, Senator Ben Allen, and we’re gonna be back in just one minute to talk to Senator about some other issues facing California.

You’re listening to Unite and Heal America on CAVC 790. This is Matt Matern, your host and I’ve got Senator Ben Allen with us today. And, Senator, you were just saying something off the record. And I wanted to get it on, get it on the air to have our listeners had the benefit of this?

Well, I was just talking about how, how so many, the one of the reasons why we have a robust, strong economy is because we have strong regulations, because we have rule of law, that’s that’s the environment where people can feel comfortable, as you said, investing in the stock market, for example, and knowing that they’re not likely to be, you know, that they’re not gonna be defrauded.

You know, and that’s that we only have that confidence, because of the regulations, we had the confidence of, of, you know, banking, and using the bank system because of the FDIC and the regulations associated.

And what I was going to say is that it’s interesting with with with business groups, they will almost always kick and scream and fight against regulations. However, they also recognize that, that, that in the end of the day, they that, that, that as long as they’re innovating and staying ahead of the curve, regulations can sometimes benefit them, right.

So in the case of the automobile folks, the ones who are doing, we’re putting putting the better environmental products out in the market actually have a competitive advantage associated with regulations that take into account pollution, because they’re putting out products that are less polluting.

And so regulations can also help to read reset the balance, and ensure that, that the the true costs of these market activities are are being built in to the market development process. So the research and development process, so that there will be greater incentive for businesses to move toward products, that that ended up putting on a lesser cost on society.

But one of my examples that I like to give is essentially like eating hamburgers, and the living wage is that essentially McDonald’s and the like, by paying less than the living wage to their workers, we are all subsidizing hamburgers, because those workers can’t possibly survive on that sub living wage. And so they’re going to have to get public benefits to survive.

So essentially, every burger is subsidised by those of us who may be not eating burgers, because these restaurants or you know, pick the industry are not paying their workers a reasonable wage. So we all end up paying the cost. So don’t don’t tell us so, you know, we you’re gonna force us to pay, you know, the living wage, it’s going to drive us out of business.

Well, maybe that business isn’t a good business, if if you can’t, you know, pay your workers a reasonable wage, then maybe they ought to go work on something else that actually is adds value to our, our economy and to our country.

Yeah, yep, we’ve allowed for too much freely. I mean, Walmart is a good example as to right like, I mean, they basically pay their folks so that so little, that so many of their workers are are on, you know, on Medicaid, and, and, you know, accessing all these public services, even though they have jobs, right. And they’re not paying the health insurance, you know, they clearly could they’re making 10s of billions of dollars.

They could afford to do it, but they choose not to because they want to make more profits for themselves. But anyway, I digress. One of the things that’s kind of near and dear to my heart is this whole hydrogen economy and I’ve had a couple of hydrogen cars and currently have one and one is see what is being done on a state level in terms of rolling out that technology to trucks, trains, buses, planes, ships, because it is a greener fuel than then diesel and the like that is used for many of these modes of transportation and electrical generally doesn’t work as well, from what I understand for trucks because they need a battery that’s so big that it’s hard to, you know, operate in same way.

So this is another thing to talk to, the folks of the LA DWP about, this is a very exciting area. It’s controversial, and it’s speak. And the reason it’s controversial is that it is, I think, there are lots of different types of hydrogen procurement. So they talk about brown hydrogen, gray, hydrogen, blue hydrogen and green hydrogen.

The point being, ultimately, that there are some forms of hydrogen procurement and use that are not as environmentally friendly as others, if we can now what the LE DWP is working on, actually, is using that excess solar power to electrolysis to basically create a green procurement process for hydrogen. And if they’re able to scale it, and kind of tie it in with the duck curve issues, you know, the, the the electrical grid issues we were talking about earlier, in terms of all this excess solar, you know, use that excess power at certain times of the day to produce the all this green hydrogen, then it can really work.

But it’s ultimately about how we procure the hydrogen, how you because ultimately, what you’re doing when you when you make sure, you’re, you’re breaking up the water molecule, and that takes energy. And so if we’re doing it with dirty energy are we doing with clean energy? And, and so there’s a path to do it with clean energy, it’s just gonna take scaling investment. And I think it’s potentially very exciting for all the reasons you just articulated.

Right? And I think that ultimately, we’re going to figure out how to make enough energy. And then it will be the question of just doing it in a green way. Like when we when we figure out how to harness more of the solar energy and more of the wind energy, then we’ll have the capacity to make this hydrogen for cars, ships, planes, trucks, whatever.

And then that’s a much better fuel than a battery powered vehicle, because the battery we’re gonna have to dispose of, and if we have millions of batteries, I could see that potentially being a problem down the road. That’s kind of my thinking on it. But, yes, that’s one of the many problems we have to deal with.

One of the things that I’d like to ask you about is solar. And in terms of whether, at some point in time, California would consider making some kind of mandates to put solar on every rooftop, I mean, commercial, industrial, residential. And, and obviously, then we need the capacity to then store that energy. But if we did that, we would have a tremendous amount of energy that we could harness.

Yeah, I mean, there are some new, new new construction, rooftop solar requirements. There’s a really interesting battle going on right now. And I don’t know if you may have followed the the LA Times wrote about this pretty regularly over the winter. happening at the at the Public Utilities Commission over rooftop solar versus industrial.

You know, there’s an argument that says that rooftop solar is, is very inefficient. There’s another argument, of course, that the alternative, which is basically generating solar out in the middle of the desert, is really impacts local biodiversity in the desert. You know, so so there’s a battle happening over what’s a better system.

There’s also a battle over who ought to be getting the the money associated with the power generated from the rooftop solar, how much of it should be in the hands of the of the homeowner who is both helping to produce the energy but also taking advantage of drawing down power from giving power to the grid and taking advantage of the grid infrastructure, which of course we’ve all invested in.

And that becomes a really tricky kind of formula. And so I’m, I’m very real, but I happen to be a pro very pro rooftop solar guy for the reasons you articulated. But but it’s not what but but figuring out the right balance here, and how to how to also figure out how to compensate people and also how to charge people is, is becoming very tricky, and it’s playing out at the PUC right now, the Public Utilities Commission, and I commend everyone if you’re interested this hoppecke to read some of the LA Times excellent reporting on this issue.

Well, definitely we we will cover that in greater detail in a later show. And I appreciate your heads up on that front. It does the legislature have a role in that process? Or is this all the PUC that is determining this panel?

We very much have a role. But, but you’re there. So it’s actually there was a there was a bill arena, Gonzalez, who’s now about to become head of the Labor Federation had put in a bill to, to basically dramatically shifts the the formula that that folks that currently governs rooftop solar. And her argument is that rooftop solar as it is currently formulated, ends up being a a transfer of wealth transfer from poor folks to rich folks.

She feels that it’s largely wealthier folks who are taking advantage of the opportunities that rooftop solar provide. And yet, everybody, especially poor folks are paying into the broader grid infrastructure. And I think it’s more complicated than it’s been framed. And I think there’s a way to rejigger the formula so that we could both incentivize rooftop solar, you know, get more people democratize rooftop solar. And the truth is there actually are a lot of low income folks that participate in rooftop solar.

But this is this is becoming a, as I say, it’s becoming a tricky thing. And it’s it’s actually the politics are getting tricky because the labor folks who work in this space work for the big procurement guys, and they see rooftop solar as an area where they’re not getting a lot of the work. So it becomes a it becomes an interesting kind of tension with with labor as well.

Well, fascinating as always, Senator and it’s been a pleasure having you on the show and everybody you’ve been listening to Senator Ben Allen on Unite and Heal America CAVC 790 This is Matt Matern, your host and join us next week and we look forward to having you back. Great to have you, Senator,

Anytime, I love talking about this stuff. And I really appreciate appreciate the robust meaningful discussion we’ve been able to have.

Thank you again.

(Note: this is an automatic transcription and may have errors in formatting and grammar.)

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