What’s next for the enviro-business coalition that defeated California’s Prop 23?
Photo: Denis GilesMuch of the green movement has been mounting a rearguard fight in Washington to fend off attempts to gut the U.S. EPA in the wake of the Republican sweep of the 2010 elections.
California, as usual, is heading down a different road. The enviro-business coalition that defeated Prop 23, Texas oil companies’ attempt to derail the state’s global-warming law, is stepping up effort to push lawmakers to expand California’s climate-change efforts.
First, the No on 23 campaign led by billionaire hedge-fund manager Tom Steyer resurfaced last month as Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs.
On Tuesday, a second group, the Silicon Valley-based Clean Coalition, emerged to press a similar agenda in an effort it calls the Clean California Campaign. “The Campaign promotes policies to meet Gov. Jerry Brown’s call to install 12,000 megawatts of new renewable energy projects in California communities by 2020,” the group said in a statement. “The Campaign’s initiatives will maximize clean energy job creation, attract billions of private investment dollars, boost state and local government budgets, and reduce electric bills.”
In the Golden State, that’s like saying you love the beach, dolphins, and sunshine. So what is the Clean Coalition — whose members range from the Los Angeles Business Council to the California chapters of the U.S. Green Building Council to Westinghouse Solar — actually going to do?
One, push for the expansion of programs requiring utilities to pay premiums — aka feed-in tariffs — for distributed generation of renewable energy, such as rooftop solar and small photovoltaic farms.
The Clean Coalition also plans to lobby to simplify and speed up the process of connecting renewable energy projects to the grid, currently a years-long, laborious process not designed for bringing on hundreds if not thousands of new power sources. Stephanie Wang, the Clean Coalition’s program director, told me the group would focus on legislation and regulatory reform to achieve its aims.
In a sign of the Clean Coalition’s pull, the organization trotted out California’s green elite to endorse its campaign, from a former state energy commissioner to Terry Tamminen, who served as secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
While the Clean Coalition and Steyer’s group are pursuing separate if complementary agendas, the result is likely to be a full-court press to get California Democrats, who control all top statewide offices from Gov. Jerry Brown on down as well as the legislature, to ramp up renewable energy production.