It came down to the final minutes before midnight last night for SB 722, the bill that would make law California’s 33% renewable energy goal by 2020. But as the bill’s author State Senator Joe Simitian says, “The clock just ran out. It’s as simple and painful as that.”
Last night marked the deadline for state legislators to pass any bills before the end of the two-year legislative session. In a flurry of activity, SB 722 cleared the assembly floor, but failed to make it to the senate before the clock struck twelve.
“We are extremely disappointed and a little perplexed about what happened,” says Laura Wisland is a clean energy analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists. “We think not establishing a 33% renewable portfolio standard this year is a huge loss to California’s environment and economy.”
The 33% goal isn’t a new thing. Governor Schwarzenegger established it last year in an executive order that directed the Air Resources Board to begin setting up the renewable portfolio standard (RPS). But supporters fear that an executive order could be reversed by a future governor. And according to an analysis by the state’s non-partisan Legislative Analyst, he RPS is also vulnerable to Proposition 23, the state ballot initiative that would suspend AB 32 (California’s sweeping 2006 climate law) and related regulations. See Craig Miller’s recent post for more on Prop 23’s reach.
Wisland says converting the 33% goal into state law would send a strong signal to clean energy developers. “The market really needs the certainty of a law to be secure with making the investments we need to actually reach this goal,” said Wisland.
But SB 722 may yet have a future. The Governor has the power to call a special legislative session in which legislators could take up the bill again. He alluded to that in a press conference today: “I think anything that was not accomplished I would try to get them done before I leave office, yes. I think that we can do that while we do the budget negotiations,” Governor Schwarzenegger said.
Simitian says the special session is a possibility, since the RPS is key part of the Governor’s green legacy. “This is a goal that I think we share and whether it’s for environmental reasons or sound energy policy, or as an economic driver for the state, I think it’s something we should do sooner rather than later.”