Capitol Alert

De León says ‘green jobs’ will be priority as Senate leader

California Senate leader Kevin de Leon at his swearing in ceremony this month in Los Angeles.
California Senate leader Kevin de Leon at his swearing in ceremony this month in Los Angeles. AP

In his first policy speech as California’s Senate leader, Kevin de León said one of his key priorities will be combating climate change by setting policies that promote energy efficiency.

“A top priority for me as pro tem will be to continue laying the foundations of a green economy with green jobs that will be an example for the world. And you are an important partner in this endeavor,” the Los Angeles Democrat said Thursday in remarks prepared for a speech to hundreds of water officials in southern California.

De León said water agencies use huge amounts of electricity to move water, which creates an output of emissions that contributes to warming the planet and worsening drought conditions.

“Our water supply and energy use are inextricably linked to climate change,” he said to the Southern California Water Committee. “If we are serious about combating climate change, which I believe we must be, we must also ensure we are using cleaner energy for water production and that we are using that energy as efficiently as possible.”

De León said he wants California to put some of the money generated by the cap-and-trade pollution control system into offering incentives to water agencies to make their energy systems cleaner and expedite their “transition to a low-carbon economy.”

“These are jobs for Southern California, not jobs exported to Guanghzou, China. They are the laborers, the engineers, the boots on the ground implementing, operating and managing water equipment,” he said.

The message drew on similar themes de León touted in 2012, when he campaigned successfully for Proposition 39. The measure, funded largely by billionaire climate-change activist Tom Steyer, changed the state’s corporate tax formula to fund energy-efficiency renovations in public schools. Supporters promoted it as a way to both create jobs and improve the environment.

In his speech to the water officials Thursday, de León also stumped for Proposition 1, the water bond on the Nov. 4 ballot, and said that given the state’s drought, “we all need to learn to do more with less water.”

Call Laurel Rosenhall, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1083. Follow her on Twitter @LaurelRosenhall.

Related stories from Sacramento Bee