Guest Blogger: Jenny Pezda
“When I grow up, I want to work for a public utility!”
Okay, it’s not a statement typically made by, well, anyone – especially no one in the environmental (read: “enviro”) world. Utility companies aren’t commonly associated with sustainability mindsets, and gas companies are supposed to be the fracking-crazy “bad guys,” right?
Answer: WRONG. If anything, working at SoCalGas has convinced me that utilities are at the forefront of power players working to increase energy efficiency and sustainability across the nation, with Southern California leading the way. How do they do this? POLICY, LEGISLATION AND ENGAGEMENT.
Not the most thrilling answer, you say? That may be, but it’s unequivocally an extremely influential route to enact broad-sweeping measures that significantly contribute to achieving California’s aggressive environmental goals. SoCalGas (SCG) collaborates directly with state environmental agencies—including the Air Resources Board, the EPA, the Southern California Association of Governments, and the South Coast Air Quality Management District—to develop and implement innovative, cost-efficient energy policies that reduce toxic greenhouse gas emissions (especially from transportation). What’s more, SCG directly engages with local city governments and communities to help create effective management plans and strategize for long-term environmental goals. Did you know that this summer, especially, numerous (10 and counting) national and regional environmental policy regulations were passed (Obama’s Clean Power Plan anyone?) that will strongly affect how the state, and many environmental groups, will design their protection and mitigation strategies? Guess who not only read all of those but then helped create regional action plans to actually implement the policies…..that’s right, ME.
While I didn’t collect data in the field for TNC like some of my other peers, I did get to collaborate with the regional agencies that help shape their research goals. It’s this type of “bigger picture” engagement that I’m eager to pursue. Legislative policy is the vehicle by which environmental efforts are rallied, and engagement is the ticket to join the campaign.
Such has been the life of my SoCalGas internship, and every day, the opportunity to help shape California’s environmental future makes waking up at 5:00 a.m. to catch a darn train almost worth it.
Jenny Pezda is is an expected MESM 2016, specializing in Corporate Environmental Management. This summer she interning as an Environmental Public Policy & Planning Analyst with SoCalGas.