Thursday, February 19, 2015

California Climate Leadership?

On Feb 10, several members from the California State Senate introduced a package of legislative proposals that will strengthen California's leadership in powering a new clean-energy economy. The proposals include historic benchmarks for pollution reduction, energy efficiency, and petroleum use that will spur innovation and investment and maintain California's lead in creating jobs in the advanced energy sector. This will be the first series of bills introduced by Senate Democrats to combat climate change and preserve the environment.

Details of the proposals along with bill language, charts, articles, and statements from a broad coalition of supporters are online at the State Senate page.

Our Governor Jerry Brown wishes to attend COP 21, as the state's big utility providers are all aware. Brown hopes climate policy advances in California and other states can be used to pressure heads of state during international climate talks in Paris in December. Per the Sacramento Bee, “We call this policy the road to Paris, because the governor wants a seat at the table in Paris,” said Rob Lapsley, president of the California Business Roundtable. “We want to be supportive – we told them that – but we’ve got to have a policy that provides balance.”

The Bee goes on to note: One month after Gov. Jerry Brown proposed dramatically expanding California’s greenhouse gas reduction laws, California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León announced legislation on Feb. 10 to enact the proposal. In a move to blunt opposition from business interests and moderate Democrats, de León cast the package of environmental measures as a jobs program. The legislative package includes measures to cut petroleum use in half by 2030 and to expand, from one-third to one-half, the proportion of electricity California derives from renewable sources such as wind and solar.

Yet the Governor got called out on his environmental grandstanding by a protest march this Feb 7, which calls for a ban on the increased fracking that is taking place in the state and poisoning groundwater supplies during a historic drought.

Across the country, Governor Jerry Brown benefits from the widely-held notion that he is a leader on climate issues, a legacy from his ecologically-framed "Governor Moonbeam" first two terms of 1974 - 1982. But over the last four years, Governor Brown has not delivered on his promise to put our water and health first in order to carry California into a new clean-energy economy. Instead, he’s chosen to expand extreme oil and gas extraction, which harms our communities and undermines his own greenhouse gas reduction goals for California. In March of last year, a protest march was held in Sacramento to urge the Governor to end fracking, and this issue has created tremendous public opposition activity to oppose the expansion of this destructive technology.

So, his new moniker has become "Big Oil Brown" to note the shift, and he is also favoring legislation that will drain water from the San Francisco Bay area with gigantic twin tunnels to direct water to the central valley agriculture community. For which the voters in Southern California are being asked to disproportionately to pay the bill. It's tragic that his legacy now consists of unsound environmental practices that directly counter his political posturing for the global climate movement, and critically undermines his credibility with the climate leadership in the US and throughout Europe.

Update 6/15/2015: Governor Brown isn't following through with the prudent approaches he has publicly outlined to California's climate and water issues.