PG&E pays to offset Democrats’ carbon emissions
SACRAMENTO (AP) _ California Democrats have recruited Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to offset carbon emissions related to the national party convention this summer.The state’s largest utility will buy $8,440 worth of carbon credits that will come from a Northern California redwood forest.”We want to make sure we go to a city like Denver to show that even though we’re a big delegation, we think about making a small impact,” state Democratic Party Chairman Art Torres said.California’s is the first Democratic delegation to announce such an arrangement as part of a national push by the Democratic Party to reduce or offset carbon output at its convention, Torres said.State party officials asked PG&E an influential utility with business interests before the Legislature and state agencies to cover the average carbon emissions generated by its 441 delegates, and 62 alternates, committee members and staff. It amounts to $10 a person.The idea is to offset the carbon dioxide emitted by the airplanes and taxis that shuttle delegates into and around Denver during the Aug. 25-28 convention.PG&E is the latest corporation covering expenses for California delegations attending both the Democratic and Republican national conventions. Other donors have pledged to cover transportation, catering, wages and other expenses. In exchange, they gain access to influential lawmakers and party power brokers.”It’s a great move by the Democratic Party to have somebody else pick up the tab,” said Robert Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles and former general counsel of the California Fair Political Practices Commission. “Why wouldn’t they ask each delegate to chip in $10?”Former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles, said many delegates especially college students are living on a fixed income and can’t afford to pay for the extras.PG&E’s contribution will come from shareholder money, utility spokesman Keely Wachs said.The money will buy 844 tons of carbon to be absorbed by the 24,000-acre Garcia River Forest in Mendocino County owned by the nonprofit Conservation Fund.The group manages the coastal forest to store more carbon dioxide than if the forest were left to grow naturally or cut aggressively for timber sales. It follows forestry management standards endorsed by the California Air Resources Board.