Governor Jerry Brown signed into law today one of the most significant climate and energy bills in California's history. All told, the Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015 (Senate Bill 350) authored by Sen. Pro Tem Kevin de León and Sen. Mark Leno establishes the world's most ambitious clean energy targets out to 2030, cementing California's leadership on the world stage heading into pivotal United Nations climate talks in Paris this December.
A Mosaic of Milestones
SB 350 lays the groundwork for how California will achieve critical climate and clean energy goals laid out by Governor Brown earlier this year in his inaugural speech. Specifically, the bill:
- Requires all electricity providers in the state to get at least 50 percent of their supply of electricity from renewable resources like wind and solar by no later than 2030. California is already on pace to hit the mark; this provision provides a clear long-term market signal to ensure we do.
- Directs state agencies to double their efforts to improve the energy efficiency of buildings and businesses throughout the state, which together with the renewable energy requirement will slash carbon pollution in the power sector nearly 40 percent below 2020 forecast levels, equivalent to avoiding the annual carbon pollution from more than 6 million cars.
- Expands the core mission of the electricity industry to help displace petroleum as the dominant transportation fuel and expand access to clean, zero-emission vehicles across California.
- Takes an important step forward toward creating an integrated Western system to consolidate control over electric grid operations (right now more than 38 separate entities run smaller parts of the grid), paving the way for easier integration and continued growth of renewable energy resources.
One provision that was removed from the bill in the final days of the legislative session would have codified the Governor's goal to reduce petroleum consumption in half by 2030. While the legislature's failure to stand up to the oil industry's fearmongering is deplorable, the administration's commitment to achieving the Governor's petroleum reduction goal and the strategies that are already getting us there remain firmly intact. (Just two weeks ago, California reaffirmed its commitment to cleaner fuels by readopting the low carbon fuel standard, which has been in the oil industry's crosshairs for years).
Despite Big Oil's smokescreen, one thing is clear: California's leadership and communities across the state are more committed than ever to reduce our dependence on petroleum and eliminate its devastating impacts on the health and well-being of Californians.
Just the Beginning
While SB 350 is a huge step forward in meeting California's clean energy and climate goals, and continuing the growing momentum for real climate action here and around the globe, the real work is just beginning.
The broad and growing support for SB 350 is evidence of how climate action, clean energy, job creation and a healthy economy go hand in hand in California. Labor, businesses, community groups, local governments, environmental groups and more came together to fight for a clean energy future for all.
We look forward to working with our partners, the governor and the legislature on critical next steps. Priorities include further action to ensure that the benefits of California's growing clean energy economy extend to communities across the state, including those disadvantaged by pollution and energy development, reducing dependence on fossil fuels and protecting our land and water from the devastating impacts of extraction activities.