California has always been a leader. Rather than do things the way they’ve always been done, we blaze our own path for others to follow. This is how our state became the global leader in a number of industry sectors, ranging from entertainment to technology to clean energy. Now California has another opportunity to show leadership. That opportunity is natural gas. The question is: what is the best way to ensure we are maximizing the benefits of natural gas in a responsible, effective manner? As a business person in the San Fernando Valley, I know the importance of creating jobs. But I believe that prosperity must come with a purpose. We can and should create jobs in a way that also improves our quality of life by reducing polluting and greenhouse gas emissions, while protecting our environment. Specifically, California has the opportunity to take a leadership position and leverage the economic, energy efficiency and air quality benefits that natural gas provides, not just in the electric generation sector, but in direct applications using natural gas every day in California’s homes, businesses and industries. In our state, natural gas is abundant, affordable, energy efficient, and helps reduce emissions that contribute both to air pollution and to climate change. It fuels California’s economy and a growing number of clean natural gas vehicles; it warms our homes and provides reliable backup for renewable power when the sun isn’t shining or when the wind dies down. Simply put, natural gas is an affordable, non-toxic, low-carbon and clean-burning fuel source that can result in substantial reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, natural gas is an alternative fuel that will help our state create jobs and further stimulate our local and statewide economy. President Barack Obama said in his 2012 State of the Union address: “The development of natural gas will create jobs and power trucks and factories that are cleaner and cheaper, proving that we don’t have to choose between our environment and economy.” History has taught us that we need to have a plan for effective use of our natural resources. Unfortunately California currently lacks a long-term strategy to maximize the use of natural gas as a highly efficient fuel source in its diverse energy portfolio. Assembly Bill 1257 authored by Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra, D-Pacoima, directs the California Energy Commission to prepare a report identifying strategies on how our state can best leverage natural gas as an energy resource that will benefit our environment, our residents and our businesses. It is important legislation that provides a much-needed roadmap that will enable California to lead the clean energy economy. I strongly support this bill. Those of us who live and breathe in the Los Angeles region with its heavily congested freeways truly understand the importance of clean air. Additionally, to meet federal air quality standards under the EPA Clean Air Act, the South Coast Air Quality Management District will need to reduce emissions by over 75 percent. Improving our air quality can also enable business growth. Natural gas is one of the most affordable and cleanest-burning conventional fuels available. Currently, compressed natural gas costs are lower per gallon than gasoline or diesel, which will result in additional savings for household budgets. This is a savings that could make a positive difference for many Californians and businesses. The passage of AB 1257 will help solidify a strong future for California. Our state is determined to be the leader in creating a clean energy economy, and we know that those who fail to plan are those that plan to fail. We cannot let that happen. A sustainable clean energy economy is too important to California residents and too critical to our environmental and economic future. I am proud to support AB 1257. It’s the right bill for our economy, environment and California’s future. Greg Lippe is a San Fernando Valley resident and business owner. He is finance chair of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association.