Governor Brown Signs Clean Energy Bill

A “historic moment” as California sets ambitious target of 50 percent renewable energy in 8 years

Senator Kevin de León, flanked by legislative and environmental leaders, celebrates the signing of his clean energy bill. Image: Screengrab from CA Senate.
Senator Kevin de León, flanked by legislative and environmental leaders, celebrates the signing of his clean energy bill. Image: Screengrab from CA Senate.

Flanked by legislative and environmental leaders, Governor Jerry Brown signed S.B. 100 today. The bill–now law–authored by Senator Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), revises goals for clean energy, moving them up by several years. It requires California to get fifty percent of its energy from renewable resources by 2026, and sixty percent by 2030. The ultimate goal of the bill is to achieve 100 percent renewable electricity by 2045.

The bill also contains provisions to prevent the state’s increasing use of renewables from shifting dirtier energy to other states, and to keep it from increasing carbon emissions outside of California.

Setting these ambitious targets is, as leaders said at the signing ceremony, a “historic moment” and reason to celebrate for the legislators and environmental leaders. The past few years have seen the legislature set ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets, extend cap-and-trade, set goals to replace gas cars with zero-emission vehicles, and set goals to reduce fossil fuel use and increase energy efficiency. This bill raises the targets that California has already been working towards in recognition of the “existential crisis” that is climate change.

California has also been pushed, by legislators and community advocates, to focus these efforts on the communities that have historically suffered the most from pollution and climate change. Tom Steyer, founder and major funder of NextGen America, was among the people gathered at the ceremony; he highlighted the justice issue, saying California’s work on it sets it apart.

“The difference between California and every other place I travel to,” he said, “is that when we talk about energy and climate, we start with the word ‘justice.’ This state has been using energy policy not just to move towards clean energy but also to redress environmental injustice that has been foisted on our poor communities and our communities of color for decades.”

Californians, he said, “have understood that to separate energy from justice is a big mistake.”

Governor Brown jokes as he signs several copies of the bill. Image: Screengrab CA Senate
Governor Brown joked as he signs several copies of the bill. Image: Screengrab CA Senate

For the most part, the ceremonial speeches stayed on the theme of California’s pioneering leadership in combating climate change. It was the first of a number of celebrations by outgoing Senator Kevin de Leon and outgoing Governor Jerry Brown, who said he will be signing “several more bills this week” addressing environmental issues.

“But have no illusions,” he said. “California and the rest of the world have miles to go before we achieve zero-carbon emissions.”

The signing comes on the eve of the Global Climate Action Summit taking place in the Bay Area this week, co-chaired by Governor Brown. The summit includes a big calendar of related events, many of which can be live-streamed by anyone. It will provide a forum for leaders at all levels to discuss worldwide efforts to reach the goals of the Paris Accords, and comes amid a growing urgency to take action.

Streetsblog will be attending and reporting on the summit throughout the week.

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  • Bernard Finucane

    But few waste energy more flagrantly than America. For example, the US consumes about a quarter of the world’s oil, mostly to drive dumb pick up truck to the mall and back because TV ads say pickups are “tough”.

    It isn’t easy to admit that your problems begin at home. That’s why everyone at AA meetings has to get up and say “I’m an alcoholic”. It’s much easier to point your finger at other people, but it’s not a great plan in the long run.

  • Bernard Finucane

    Maybe people “forget” this because it is something you made up. California’s oil production peaked about 1985 and is down two thirds since then.

  • LazyReader

    We’re selling coal, oil and gas to India and China, 3 BILLION people can burn it. But public policy says we won’t because we don’t want 300 million people adding to global warming?

  • SFnative74

    Residential solar is a fantastic way to ramp up renewable energy. My very modest roof provides enough room for panels to power two homes. And with financial incentives, a variety of financing options (including $0 up front) and cheap solar equipment already in place, it is simply a no-brainer to install solar on your roof. Even if you don’t care about the environment – solar saves you money.

  • Jeffrey Baker

    People do tend to forget that California has huge oil fields, and we’re pumping oil out of them faster today than we ever did before. But it’s OK because we greenwashed it: some of the oil fields are using solar-heated steam for thermal extraction.

  • LazyReader

    He called it a “Clean Energy” Bill…..So energy doesn’t emit CO2?
    I can break that down too.
    Natural Gas: 49%
    Hydroelectric: 14.5%
    Solar: 9.6
    Nuclear: 9.5
    Wind 6.9
    Geothermal 6.3
    biomass 3%
    other 1.2
    California can solve it’s electric power problems of brown outs, high prices and shortages and emissions with more nuclear plants.

  • Pietro Gambadilegno

    This bill is about sources of electricity. Your list is about all sources of energy. You are confusing two very different things.

  • LazyReader

    California was the third-largest producer of petroleum among the
    50 states in 2016, after Texas and North Dakota, and, as of January
    2017, third in oil refining capacity, with a combined capacity of almost
    2 million barrels per calendar day at the state’s 18 operable
    refineries. I can just imagine the political ramifications to the passing of legislation that targets those industries.

    A break down of California’s energy consumption
    0.4% Coal
    31.97% Natural Gas
    24.378% Gasoline/liquid motor fuels
    9.6% Aviation/Jet fuel
    0.82% Hydrocarbon gas fuel (propane/butane/etc)
    2.0% residual fuel oil
    4.62% Other petroleum fuels
    2.8% Nuclear
    3.799% Hydroelectric
    3.978% Biomass
    7.1% Other Renewable (Geothermal/Wind/solar)

    California get’s 73.8% of it’s energy from fossil fuels in 2016. Whatever pretense they have on meeting expectations by 2020,2030 is laughable.

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