De Leon: ‘Utilities have bigger issues to deal with’
The California Legislature sent a bill to the governor that would require all retail electricity to be generated from solar, wind and other renewable energy sources by 2045.
Despite objections from utilities and oil companies, the Assembly voted 43-32 to eliminate fossil fuels in the state’s energy sector on Tuesday. Senate Bill 100, introduced by Sen. Kevin de León, cleared the Senate Wednesday with a 25-13 vote and awaits Gov. Jerry Brown’s consideration.
“When it comes to fighting climate change and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, California won’t back down, ” de León said. “We have taken another great stride toward a 100% clean energy future.”
Climate activists and environmental groups have hailed the plan as a critical step forward in the battle against climate change. The bill’s passage in California will serve as a symbolic strike against the Trump administration, which has steadily attempted to erode environmental protections, roll back fuel economy standards and weaken existing rules meant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fire plants.
Opponents have long argued that California’s efforts to combat climate change are futile and fail to make a substantial difference as the planet continues to warm. Some Assembly members warned the bill would hurt workers in the fossil fuel industry and raise prices for utility customers.
“We pass all these goals for renewables, but at the same time our families back home will pay the cost with an increase in the electric bills every year as we try to achieve this,” said Assemblyman Devon Mathis, is, R-Visalia.
The bill is opposed by Pacific Gas and Electric Company, San Diego Gas And Electric Company, Western States Petroleum Association, Agricultural Council of California and more than two dozen others.
The proposal toughens regulations in a state seen as a global leader on climate change.
State lawmakers set a goal two years ago of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders last year extended the state’s cap-and-trade program, a market-based system that allows polluters to buy permits for the greenhouse gases they emit, through 2030. Lawmakers described the cap-and-trade program as the state’s best tool to encourage companies to reduce their carbon footprint and allow the state to reach its greenhouse gas goals.
De León initially introduced SB 100 in 2017 and the Assembly held the bill, effectively killing it for the year. In addition to setting the no-carbon standard, the bill would revise interim goals along the way. The bill bumps up an existing target by four years to hit 50 percent renewable energy in 2027 and sets the state on track to meet the 60 percent threshold by the end of 2030.
Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and former Vice President Al Gore wrote separate letters of support for SB 100. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom pledges to issue a directive on his first day of office, if elected, to put California on target to achieve 100 percent renewable energy. He has not publicly endorsed SB 100.
Gov. Jerry Brown, who is hosting a global climate summit in San Francisco next month, has also remained silent on the proposal.