California just signed a landmark bill to tackle climate change
It’s official. California Gov. Jerry Brown just signed climate-change bill SB 350 into law.
The landmark measure promises to reduce California’s greenhouse gases by increasing the use of renewable energy. By 2030, 50 percent of the state’s electricity will be produced by renewable energy (solar, wind, geothermal). The new requirements will double the use of renewable energy in California, which means the Golden State now has the third highest renewable energy requirements in the nation, just behind Hawaii (required to be 100 percent renewable by 2045) and Vermont (75 percent renewable by 2032).
You probably have broken out in celebratory dance by now. Which is fine, because this is great news. The bill had widespread popular support, and was backed by groups like Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) and the Sierra Club.
The bad news comes next: The bill originally included a goal to reduce petroleum use by 50 percent by 2030. That section of the bill faced the largest industry push back. The LA Times reported last month:
Oil companies facing the prospect of lower sales in California are fiercely opposed, and they’ve launched an extensive advertising and lobbying campaign to stop the bill. Industry leaders, and some lawmakers, are concerned that the measure doesn’t include details for how to meet the gasoline target. They worry that regulators would be granted too much power.
Since 40 percent of the greenhouse gases released in California come from transportation fuel, the section on petroleum cuts was the most important. Plus, because transportation fuels have an outsize impact on communities living near highways, shipping bases, and processing plants, the oil reduction section was a major part of the environmental justice provisions CBE had pushed for.
Alas, the fossil fuel industry’s intense lobbying worked (you know what they say about squeaky wheels and grease) and the oil reduction was cut from the bill.
“It was terribly disappointing to lose that piece two days before the vote,” said Jasmin Vargas, the associate director of CBE. “It really showed that the oil lobby with their millions of dollars and fear mongering can force a progressive legislature like California’s into voting against the interest of their constituents.”
Still, many of the environmental groups who spent the last year mobilizing people in support of this landmark bill — through calling campaigns, petitions and rallying at CEJA Congreso — saw its success as a great sign for things to come.
“The bill signed by Gov. Brown today has been part of a longer fight and a growing movement for Climate Justice,” Vargas told Grist. “[We] will continue … to build a just transition away from fossil fuels that benefits communities of color who bear the brunt of pollution in their communities.”