Soapbox

Why clean energy must be part of Fortress California

Glenn Bland runs Bland Solar & Air showroom in Bakersfield, which is modeled after auto dealerships.
Glenn Bland runs Bland Solar & Air showroom in Bakersfield, which is modeled after auto dealerships. Los Angeles Times

The president of the California Business Roundtable recently argued that California’s continued focus on clean energy and climate action – in defiance of a new Trump administration – may threaten the state’s economy (“Don’t let resisting Trump hurt California’s economy,” Viewpoints, Dec. 9).

The facts say otherwise.

Thanks to California’s clean energy investments, we’ve enjoyed enormous economic gains. Last year, the state attracted a record $24 billion in clean energy investment and recorded the highest GDP growth of any state, twice the national rate. Our clean economy employs 500,000 Californians, more than in agriculture and more than in Hollywood, TV and radio combined.

California businesses see recent policies as a competitive advantage, encouraging innovation and technologies that can be exported around the world. Earlier this year, PermaCity Solar announced the world’s largest solar rooftop project at the Port of Los Angeles, creating 500 jobs in one of the city’s most polluted and underserved neighborhoods. Also, the nonprofit GRID Alternatives used state funding to install solar panels on more than 1,600 homes in low-income neighborhoods, many of them in Los Angeles, helping to create more jobs while dramatically reducing homeowner electric bills.

Some of California’s biggest employers have doubled down on their commitments to renewable energy. The likes of Wal-Mart, Google and GM have reaffirmed that addressing climate change benefits their bottom line as well as the environment, and is part of a long-term economic strategy regardless of who is president.

Because of our forward-thinking policies and voters who support action on climate change, California’s economy is thriving. We produce 1.7 times as much economic activity as the rest of the country from the same amount of energy.

Instead of California changing course to align with President-elect Trump’s priorities, perhaps the federal government can learn a few things from California.

Mary Leslie is president of the Los Angeles Business Council. She can be contacted at mleslie@labusinesscouncil.org.

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