San Jose’s SunPower buys solar rival — and avoids Trump’s tariffs

SunPower of San Jose reported Wednesday that it will buy SolarWorld Americas, a solar manufacturer in Oregon, in a sign of how the industry is reconfiguring itself to deal with the Trump administration’s protectionist moves. SunPower will use SolarWorld’s factory in Hillsboro, Ore., to build its own panels, while the facility continues to make SolarWorld […]

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Cutting tailpipe emission not that effective against global warming

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Monday it will reconsider the federal government’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards for passenger cars for model years 2022-25. The Obama administration set very stringent standards, peaking at 54.5 miles per gallon in 2025. After the EPA’s midterm review, it found these standards to be inappropriate. Automakers also warn […]

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California may tweak climate program that’s quietly pushing up gas prices

Even as drivers debate repealing California’s recent gasoline tax hike, an often-overlooked state program has quietly helped push fuel prices higher. Dubbed the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, the program is designed to fight climate change by forcing oil companies to lower the “carbon intensity” of the fuels they sell in California. For years, it had […]

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Obamacare insurance premiums to rise 18 percent next year, analysis finds

Health insurance premiums in California are expected to rise nearly 18 percent in 2019 as a result of federal policy changes enacted by Congress and the Trump administration, according to an analysis released Monday by the Urban Institute left-leaning think tank. In 2019, roughly 1 million fewer Californians will be enrolled in health plans in […]

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California tax revenues far exceed expectations for second month in a row

California’s tax revenues far exceeded expectations in January for the second consecutive month, but it remains to be seen how much of the excess reflects underlying strength in the economy, versus people speeding up their 2017 state income tax payments while they were still fully deductible on federal tax returns. State income tax revenues for […]

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How to end poverty in California

The EITC is working, but creating a California where work pays enough to cover people’s basic needs will require more of it. Ending the poverty crisis requires a minimum wage that is a living wage — $25 per hour. It’s time to live up to our progressive rhetoric and be champions for the millions of […]

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Gone in 5 seconds: SF neighborhood, police powerless against car break-ins

Heat maps of where last year’s 30,000 police reports were taken in San Francisco show car break-ins are concentrated in tourist hot spots — from the Beach Chalet to Fisherman’s Wharf, from the Academy of Sciences to, yes, Lombard Street. Sometimes, the losses are major: passports, cash, laptops, entire packed suitcases. Other times, they’re small […]

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Gov. Brown tells environmentalists in SF to ‘live lean and lightly’

Technology alone isn’t going to be enough to save the world from the very real dangers of climate change, Gov. Jerry Brown told an audience of environmentalists in San Francisco on Wednesday night.

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Thousands of striking Oakland city workers hit the picket lines

In addition to the libraries and recreation centers, the strike brought to a standstill street cleaning, senior centers, the hauling away of illegal dumping, fire and building inspections, parking citations, after-school programs, and the filing of non-emergency crime and traffic reports. When strong winds Monday night knocked down 15 trees and many more branches, emergency contractors were brought in to clear them, said city spokeswoman Karen Boyd.

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Multibillion-dollar water measures heading to state ballot

Two multibillion-dollar bonds are expected to go before voters that promise to boost water supplies, offer flood protection and restore rivers and streams. One measure, sponsored by the Legislature, also would fund new parks and hiking trails. The second, a privately backed initiative, would go further to improve the infrastructure that moves water to cities and farms.

The Legislature’s $4.1 billion measure on the June ballot was forged as a compromise among several interest groups, with the support of Gov. Jerry Brown. Its water-related components lean away from traditional infrastructure projects such as new dams, and toward funding for recycling, construction of flood-control levees and cleanup of polluted waterways. 

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Huge wildfires can wipe out California’s greenhouse gas gains

Most years, the amount of greenhouse gases spewed by California’s cars, factories and power plants drops slightly — a hard-won result of the state’s fight against global warming.

And in any given year, one big wildfire can wipe out that progress.

Over the course of just a few weeks, a major fire can pump more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than California’s many climate change programs can save in 12 months. Scientists debate whether California’s vast forests are emitting more carbon dioxide through fires than they absorb through plant growth.

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State and local tax deduction not as valuable as it seems

The itemized deduction for state and local taxes has become a flash point in the debate over the GOP’s tax plans.

The House and Senate proposals call for sharply limiting or eliminating the so-called SALT deduction. Critics say Republicans in high-tax states would have a hard time voting for any bill that included this provision, because the deduction is so valuable to their constituents.

And it is, to some. But many people in high-tax states get no benefit from this deduction because they don’t itemize deductions or they are subject to the alternative minimum tax, which doesn’t allow it. Another group of people get little benefit because they are subject to the phaseout of all itemized deductions that kicks in at higher incomes.

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California may reach 50% renewable power goal by 2020 — 10 years early

Two years ago, Gov. Jerry Brown signed an ambitious law ordering California utility companies to get 50 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

It looks like they may hit that goal a decade ahead of schedule.

An annual report issued Monday by California regulators found that the state’s three big, investor-owned utilities — Pacific Gas and Electric Co., Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric Co. — are collectively on track to reach the 50 percent milestone by 2020, although individual companies could exceed the mark or fall just short of it.

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11% raises in SF schools contract would be among tops in state

Double-digit salary increases for San Francisco educators proposed under contract terms agreed to over the weekend are among the highest being offered in the state, union and school district officials said a day after the two sides signed off on a tentative agreement. If approved by the 6,200 members of the United Educators of San Francisco, the city’s school workforce of teachers, early childhood educators, librarians, nurses, classroom assistants and social workers would receive an 11 percent raise over three years, in addition to annual bonuses. The overall compensation package would grow to 16 percent pending passage of a parcel tax that many city leaders hope to place on the ballot next year.

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Rent-control policies likely ‘fueled’ SF gentrification, Stanford economists say

Rent control policies in San Francisco may have fueled gentrification, Stanford economists say. Stanford economists Rebecca Diamond and Tim McQuade, who published their findings last month, said occupants of rent-controlled apartments built before 1980 are 20 percent more likely to stay than other renters. It might seem that rent-control policies, therefore, act as a bastion against gentrification, by allowing and encouraging long-term residents to stay, but the researchers say that’s not exactly the case. “Rent control exacerbates the housing shortage by pushing landlords to remove supply of rental housing,” Diamond told SFGATE.

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