Jerry Brown

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California Governor Plans Year-End Climate Conference

Brown administration urges local preparations for climate impacts

Kimberly Ayers

Coastal communities need to ponder the future of homes like these in Redondo Beach.

California Governor Jerry Brown is picking up the climate baton from his predecessor, planning his first climate conference. According to officials, Brown will host  the Governor’s Conference on Confronting Climate Change, currently pegged for December 15th at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.

The conference is still taking shape but recent remarks from the administration seem to imply that the focus will be on planning for climate change impacts. “We have to move from planning to action…and we are behind,” says Julia Levin, Brown’s deputy secretary for climate change and energy at the California Natural Resources Agency. Continue reading

Officials Call for Federal Clean Energy Standards

In Las Vegas, politicians and industry leaders point to California’s lead

Gretchen Weber

Gov. Jerry Brown with Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval at the National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas.

In his keynote address at this week’s National Clean Energy Summit, Vice President Joe Biden said America is at a crossroads when it comes to energy, and that the choice is clear.

“If we shrink from deciding that we’re going to lead in the area of alternative energy, renewable energy, then we will be making the biggest mistake this nation has made in its entire history,” he said.

The Vice President was joined by Energy Secretary Steven Chu, California Governor Jerry Brown, and other political and industry leaders at the summit, which is in its fourth year and is sponsored by several entities, including the Center for American Progress and Nevada Senator Harry Reid.

“If we don’t lead in this new energy technology, we’re going to follow, and I’d hate like hell to be trading the importation of oil, for the importation of new technologies,” said Biden. “Neither is very acceptable.” Continue reading

Brown Praises Tougher Federal Fuel Standards

Craig Miller

Fifteen years from now, the average car in the United States must get nearly 55 miles to the gallon,  according to new fuel-efficiency standards proposed Friday by the Obama Administration.  That’s a sharp increase from the current requirement that vehicles average 34.5 miles per gallon by 2016.

California officials, environmental groups, and automakers are praising the new rules, which would require  a fleet-wide average for cars and light trucks of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

On a call with reporters today, Governor Jerry Brown called the new regulations, “probably the brightest light I’ve seen in Washington in many a month, if not years.” Continue reading

Roofing It: Brown Stumps for Distributed Solar

Craig Miller

Governor Brown moves forward with plans to encourage more local solar generation in the state.

California has been on something of a solar frenzy recently, approving permits for more than 4,000 megawatts of new solar power in 2010 alone. Most of that is in the form of large, industrial-scale installations, which will provide lots of power, but also will require transmission infrastructure to get the clean energy from the desert sun to where its needed, primarily, the coastal cities.

This week Governor Jerry Brown is focusing on the other kind of renewable energy: the local kind that is smaller in scale and doesn’t require transmission to get where it’s needed. Continue reading

Brown, Chu Tout New Renewables Law

(Photo: Lorie Shelley, CA. State Senate Photographer)

California’s utilities now have their marching orders: to provide one third of the state’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

Now that the “33-by-20″ target is a mandate backed by state law, supporters say it will lure more renewable energy investments to California. There’s evidence that it already is.

Calling it a “breakthrough,” Governor Brown signed the bill into law at the dedication of a new SunPower Corp. manufacturing plant in Milpitas, near San Jose. And he laid down a challenge:

“Last year six thousand megawatts of solar installations were produced by China and one thousand by the United States. Now, are we up for changing that? I think we are.” Continue reading

Candidates Question Climate Science

Third-party candidates for governor call the science of global warming “junk science” and “a scam at worst.”

Photo: Craig Miller

While Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown debate the pros and cons of the state’s global warming law (AB 32) and the ballot initiative that would suspend it (Proposition 23), two of the four “alternative” candidates interviewed this morning on KQED’s Forum program, attacked the science behind California’s climate change policy.

“I’ve become convinced that the whole thing is an exaggeration at best, and a scam at worst,” said Dale Odgen, the Libertarian Party candidate.  “The science has been fudged in order to get grants for people.  People like Al Gore have used it to become even more wealthy at the expense of the rest of us.” Continue reading

Whitman Commits on Prop 23 — Sort of

The mystery of whether Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman does or does not support Proposition 23 would appear to be solved. After weeks of steadfastly refusing to take a stand one way or the other on the ballot measure to freeze the state’s climate law known as AB 32, Whitman conceded on a radio broadcast that “In all likelihood I will vote ‘No’ on Prop 23.” Continue reading

The Escalating Conflict Over AB 32

Bearfight_blogCalifornia has had a climate change mitigation law on the books for more than three years now–but getting that law’s regulations fully in place is proving to be a tough slog.

Fans and mortal enemies of California’s Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) all exude certainty about what the carbon emissions-cutting law will do for–or to–the state’s economy. Lately the debate has escalated into full-scale PR warfare. Major battlefronts include:

- A signature campaign for a ballot initiative to suspend the law

- An online campaign to boycott oil companies funding the above

- Studies & surveys from both sides proclaiming their case

- A gubernatorial candidate who has vowed to suspend AB 32

This week both sides weighed in afresh.

The California branch of the National Federation of Independent Business today announced support of what proponents still call the “California Jobs Initiative,” even though the measure has been renamed by Attorney General Jerry Brown, who supports AB 32.

The measure would suspend most provisions of the climate law until the state’s official unemployment rate improves substantially from its current 12.5% level. NFIB statements say “the measure is headed for the November ballot” but only if proponents gather more than 400,000 required signatures.

John Kabateck, executive director of  NFIB/California said in a conference call with reporters today that his organization would help gather signatures to qualify the measure. He called the climate law “one more arrow in the quiver of damage and pain inflicted on small business right now.” In a companion news release, Kabatek ventured that full implementation of AB 32 would cost California more than a million jobs.

California’s non-partisan Legislative Analyst has concluded that while the exact job impact is hard to pin down, AB 32′s overall effect would be relatively minor compared to the state’s total economy.

Meanwhile, pro-AB 32 activists are circulating an online petition calling for a boycott of Valero and Tesoro, two Texas-based oil companies that are helping bankroll the suspension measure in California.

The NFIB announcement followed by one day the unveiling of a new poll showing support for AB-32 among California voters. The survey shows 58% of Californians “favor” the law either “strongly” (34%) or “somewhat.” One in four surveyed said they strongly opposed the measure. Sixty-four percent said they supported charging industry for excess emissions, while 31% opposed that. The poll was conducted in March by Field Research for Next 10, a public policy think tank that strongly supports AB 32.  Field polled about 500 voters for the survey, which has a margin of error of 4.5%.

Business is sharply divided over AB 32. The viewpoint of those wary of it is generally represented by the AB 32 Implementation Group. Other business leaders strongly support the law, including it’s cap-and-trade provisions. An outspoken example is Barry Cinnamon, CEO of Akeena Solar, who recently laid out his position for Alison van Diggelin, publisher of the Fresh Dialogues blog site.

In that conversation, Cinnamon skewered the “inane commentary” of  gubernatorial candidates calling for the undoing of AB 32. Republican candidate Meg Whitman has pledged to order a one-year “moratorium” on regulations under AB 32, on her “first day as governor,” calling the policy “wrong for these challenging times.”