In the News


Linking the Los Angeles airport

Ethan Elkind quoted in The New York Times, April 21, 2014

Ethan N. Elkind, author of “Railtown,” which chronicles the push for a modern rail system in Los Angeles, said in an interview that a connection would be unlikely to transform the way Angelenos travel to the airport. “It would be more of a psychological victory, a way to reshape the image of Los Angeles,” said Mr. Elkind. 

Plug-in vehicles edge toward the mainstream

Ethan Elkind interviewed by KALW-FM, City Visions, April 7, 2014

There was a push in the ‘90s that got some of the first versions of electric vehicles on the road. But, more recently, it has a lot to do with California policies. California has been a leader in air quality issues in general, but has also made zero-emissions vehicles a priority.

Can LA kick its driving habit?

Ethan Elkind quoted in Politico Magazine, March 5, 2014

But money alone cannot ensure success, notes Ethan Elkind, the author of Railtown, a history of Los Angeles’s troubled transit past. “Despite the multibillion-dollar investment, it took specific policies to make development happen,” Elkind says. “You can’t just build the line and assume people will come.”

Rail alone can’t reinvent LA

Ethan Elkind writes for the Los Angeles Times, January 27, 2014

Finally, rail-accessible development can create convenient, walkable neighborhoods that meet the growing demand among millennials, childless professionals and empty nesters to move “back to the city” — as many recent urban success stories attest.



Making sure renewable energy produces clean energy

Ethan Elkind writes for UCLA Today, November 25, 2013

Californians can certainly brag about the state’s leading role in deploying renewable energy from the sun and wind. In-state renewable energy generation has spiked in the past few years, prices have come down significantly, and we appear to be well on our way to meeting the goal of 33 percent of our electricity from renewable sources by 2020. But will this renewable energy boom actually mean cleaner air and less greenhouse gas pollution?

Viewpoints: Making sure renewable energy produces clean energy

Ethan Elkind writes for the Sacramento Bee, November 24, 2013

Most of us assume that renewable means clean. But the intermittent nature of much of this power – since the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow – may lead grid operators to rely on more fossil fuel-based power to fill gaps in the renewable sources.

Molokai electric vehicle movement

Ethan Elkind quoted in The Molokai Dispatch, September 18, 2013

“Molokai is an absolutely perfect fit for electric vehicles,” said Ethan Elkind, an EV expert and climate policy associate…. Compared to the 1.4 million people that visit Hawaii each year, Elkind said Molokai attracts a specific kind of person likely to request an EV rental car. “[Tourists on Molokai] are more into eco-tourism than other islands would get,” said Elkind.

Bumps in the road as Hawaii plugs in

Ethan Elkind quoted in, September 13, 2013

According to Ethan Elkind … (a co-author of the report) “Hawaii has easily solvable problems. We went island by island to see where the problems were…. The defacto cap has to be addressed because it’s preventing people from buying EVs,” he said.

High speed rail interview

Ethan Elkind interviewed by KCBS Radio, September 1, 2013

“High speed rail is coming to California…. There’s obviously some legal uncertainty with a few court decisions that have to resolve themselves, but our assumption is that the system is coming. So, the responsibility now is for leaders in the Central Valley, from the business community, local government, and down the line need to get together and figure out what they’re going to do to implement the system in a way that will benefit them economically and environmentally.”

UC report explores high-speed rail challenges, opportunities

Ethan Elkind quoted in The Fresno Bee, August 20, 2013

“The system has the potential to worsen California’s development patterns—and therefore the environment, economy and public health,” Elkind wrote. In the Valley, that potential stems from a history of low-density, car-oriented housing developments that chew up valuable agricultural land. Such development, he said, leads “to traffic congestion, poor air quality and the ongoing loss of the region’s invaluable agricultural resources.”

Berkeley visiting scholar questions benefits of electric cars

Ethan Elkind quoted in The Daily Californian, July 8, 2013

“We have to switch to electric vehicles,” said Ethan Elkind, climate policy associate of the Center for Law, Energy & the Environment at the UC Berkeley School of Law. “There is simply no other way to avoid worst impacts of climate change without electrifying vehicles.”

How much more water can the Bay Area conserve?

Ethan Elkind interviewed by KALW-FM, City Vision, April 8, 2013

“If it’s urban water use in particular, which is the case here in the San Francisco Bay Area, excluding the agricultural areas, then it’s the most energy-intensive water because it has to be pumped, has to be treated, and has to be treated on disposal, as well. So, conserving water has an immediate benefit of conserving energy. Not a lot of people understand that connection, and that’s something we’re trying to raise awareness about.”

Calif. reaches out to neighbors in push for green power

Ethan Elkind and Steven Weissman quoted in Environment and Energy Publishing, January 18, 2013

Green electricity isn’t available if clouds are out or the wind is not blowing…. “It helps to balance it out if you have a lot of different resources to compensate,” Elkind said. “At some point, the state’s going to have to go in that direction, where we start to bring in renewable resources from all across the Western region.” “The extent to which you expand the ISO’s control area, you’re also expanding the ability to have a first point of interconnection between renewable energy projects and the ISO’s grid,” Weissman said.  

Calif. billionaire might be the next big name in U.S. energy politics

Ethan Elkind quoted in E&E, Greenwire, January 9, 2013

“Having someone who has a business background, who understands how these finance deals get put together, could be really helpful,” Elkind said. As well, he said, the latest developments in advanced solar, battery storage and electric vehicles are “all right in his wheelhouse.”  


Sobering numbers indicate a depressed state for EVs in the US

Ethan Elkind quoted in ThomasNet News, October 17, 2012

“California represents a huge portion of new car sales—11 percent of overall new car sales every year, and 20 percent of hybrid vehicle sales,” Elkind told me…. Elkind, who wrote the report with research associates and business leaders from various sectors in the electric vehicle market (carmakers, battery companies, public agency officials, electricity experts, etc.), says, “It has also taken the lead legislatively, but with this paper we tried to show a few more things that can be done to help the transition more.”

New study recommends mass adoption of electric vehicles

Ethan Elkind and Steven Weissman quoted in The Daily Californian, September 9, 2012

“Electric vehicles are important to our environmental concerns, public health, quality of life and national security,” said Ethan Elkind…. “They are important to the economy because you would have a domestic source of fuel instead of having to import foreign oil.” The magnitude of environmental benefits is not the same in all states because it depends on which energy source is used to generate electricity. In states like West Virginia, electricity is produced by coal as opposed to cleaner energies used in California, said Weissman.

Court victory boosts prospects for residential clean energy PACE programs

Ethan Elkind re-quoted in Forbes, August 24, 2012

PACE watcher Ethan Elkind, who holds a joint appointment at the UCLA and UC Berkeley law schools, called the ruling a “decisive win” for the plaintiffs, which includes the California Attorney General’s Office. “With this decision,” Elkind wrote at the Legal Planet blog, “the FHFA PACE policy is officially toast until the agency can develop a final rule pending the outcome of an ongoing rulemaking process"



Ethan Elkind Clarifies Findings of Energy Storage Report

Intelligent Utility, November 29, 2011 by Phil Carson

“The report seeks to offer policy-makers an assessment of how the state could deploy energy storage technologies by 2020 in a cost-effective manner, given California’s environmental and renewable energy goals.”

Ethan Elkind Recommends Energy Storage Targets

Inside Cal/EPA, November 18, 2011 by Inside Cal/EPA Staff
“The state and federal governments could promote incentive programs, either by developing new programs or by expanding existing ones, to help finance energy storage projects, bring down costs and help manufacturers provide better data to spur further investment by 2020.”

Ethan Elkind Studies Feasibility of Energy Projects on Farmland

E&E News, October 24, 2011 by Anne C. Mulkern

“Proposed projects on farmland tend to spur opposition from agricultural interests worried about the loss of productive farmland in the state, as well as from endangered species advocates concerned about the destruction of farms that provide critical habitat for endangered and threatened species,” said Ethan Elkind, one of the authors of the study.

Los Angeles Law Schools Examiner, October 24, 2011 by Seth Chavez

“It’s important to strike a careful balance between demands for food and energy,” said report author Ethan Elkind, research fellow at UCLA Law and Berkeley Law. “The state needs to preserve its prime farmland yet actively develop these projects on appropriate sites to meet our state’s energy needs.”

Ethan Elkind Describes Public Transit Benefits

Progressive Railroading, July 13, 2011 by Editorial Staff

A good public transit system can create jobs, reduce commute time and expenses, and encourage smarter development that gives people more mobility and housing options,” he said.

Neil Popovic and Ethan Elkind call climate change a human right issue

New University, April 5, 2011 by Maxine Wally

“We need resources for assessments and planning; we need help charting a future,” Elkind said. “We need to protect existing, local resources, local water supply, promote retrofitting and realize we are all connected in this.” It is a problem felt by many, bringing about the humanitarian aspect of this issue. “The way it affects people really resonates with others because they can identify with it and can imagine how it feels,” Popovic said.


Ethan Elkind criticizes federal housing agency oposition to pace program

Greentech Enterprise, July 9, 2010 by Mark Boslet

“I think it is going to keep things on hold,” agrees Ethan Elkind, a climate change research fellow at the University of California, Berkeley and UCLA schools of law. “It makes everything a lot more expensive,” including Fannie Mae loans and the bonds that municipalities sell to raise PACE money.

Ethan Elkind wants feds to keep clean energy (pace) program

San Jose Mercury News, June 17, 2010 by Ethan N. Elkind

Fannie and Freddie should continue to underwrite mortgages on properties with PACE assessments. They could insist on required safeguards, such as nonacceleration of the PACE assessment at the time of foreclosure and mandatory incorporation of the Energy Department’s PACE guidelines. But they should not jeopardize the future of this promising program over concerns that can be readily addressed. To do otherwise would be to mortgage our economic and environmental future.      

Backyard Renewables

California Energy Circuit, Vol. 8 No. 2. Connected to the News Grid of Energy Business, Policy & Politics. January 15, 2010.

People like to live and work where the sun shines. Why not maximize the power that can be generated closer to demand?  The Golden State does a good job promoting the smallest and the largest sources of renewable power. The California Solar Initiative devotes billions of dollars to small-scale rooftop solar, while state utilities probably lead the world in signing deals for massive central-station solar and wind farms.  But let’s not forget all those large spaces close to load that could support sizable solar and (sometimes) wind installations.  This op-ed discusses large solar installations and the findings of UC Berkeley and UCLA's June 5, 2009 workshop.


The Clean Energy Potential in our Backyard

San Francisco Chronicle, December 9, 2009 by Nancy Skinner and Ethan Elkind

There are prime locations in our cities and developed areas that have significant potential for renewable power generation. These include rooftops of large buildings and the land along our highways, as well as the canals, pipelines and other infrastructure that make up the California aqueduct.

57 Million Chances to get housing right

World Changing, September 8, 2009 by Lisa Stiffler

Here's why and how to build "new urbanist" housing. Two new papers dig into the whys and hows of building higher-density communities, reaching useful and interesting conclusions. Now to the 'hows.' So how do communities get more compact? Let's turn to the second paper, "Removing the Roadblocks: How to Make Sustainable Development Happen Now" out last month from the UC Berkeley School of Law and UCLA School of Law.The report is a blueprint for changing policy and tax structure to encourage more dense development. Its focus is California, but the recommendations could be applied anywhere.

Walk the Way - urge ' sustainable development

San Francisco Chronicle, August 30, 2009 by Jared Huffman and Ethan Elkind

The real estate collapse has masked the existence of a severe housing shortage in California. While developers have oversupplied single-family detached homes with backyards, buyers looking for a home within walking distance of jobs, services, good schools, parks and public transit have few options in this state. Communities that have these "sustainable development" characteristics, such as neighborhoods in San Francisco, Pasadena and San Diego, are often among the most expensive in the state. They are also few and far between compared with the vast stretches of suburban homes covering the state. So why is suburban sprawl the norm instead of housing close to shops, cafes and transit? The primary roadblock to this development is local land-use policies.