This week California Senate leader Kevin De Leon introduced a bill that would require utilities to procure 100 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2045.
De Leon introduced Senate Bill 584 on the same day the U.S. Senate approved Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency.
California’s current renewable portfolio standard (RPS) requires that utilities procure 33 percent of their electricity from renewables by 2020. De Leon’s bill would bump that up to 50 percent by 2025.
Such a lofty target would likely not be a problem for the state’s three biggest utilities, which served 27.6 percent of their retail electricity sales with renewable power in 2015. Each of the three utilities is under contract to procure over 40 percent electricity from renewables within four years.
Only one state in America has an RPS that is as ambitious as the one De Leon proposed: Hawaii passed a bill in 2015 that also requires utilities in the state to obtain 100 percent of their electricity from renewables by 2045.
De Leon issued a statement on Pruitt’s confirmation that made it clear he would help lead California’s opposition to the incoming administration. “California will not follow Trump’s destructive path,” he proclaimed. “We’ve proven that you can protect the environment and grow jobs.”
He added that the Golden State has “delinked economic growth from greenhouse gas emissions and helped turn clean energy into a pillar of our economy that now supports over half a million jobs in our state.”
De Leon also alluded to Trump’s immigration policies in his statement on Pruitt’s confirmation. “Our commitment to balancing quality of life and economic growth is a primary reason why California remains a magnet for immigrants from all over the world and will continue to be America’s capital of technological innovation,” he said.
“This is not Republican versus Democrat; it is much more than that,” De Leon told the press. “Our institutions and values are under attack. Our freedoms of press, speech and religion, and more, are being singled out by Mr. Trump.” He added that the responses state leaders like him give Trump are different because “we have a president making dire threats and using volatile language.”
On Jan. 25, De Leon appeared on MSNBC's "The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell," speaking about the Trump’s administration’s threats to defund California for its opposition to his immigration policies. Trump “cannot commandeer and enforce local municipalities, local police agencies, local governments and the state of California to do his work," he said. He pointed out that trying to blackmail California is not wise as it is the fifth largest economy in the world and 13 percent of the nation’s GDP. He proclaimed that California would “see him in a court of law.”
De Leon is not the only political leader in California to stand up to Trump. Four days after Trump’s inauguration, Gov. Jerry Brown made it clear in his State of the State speech that the state would stand up to Trump on issues that are important to Californians, including climate change, healthcare and helping immigrants in the country illegally. “California is not turning back,” Brown said. “Not now, not ever.”
With California in the hands of political leaders like De Leon and Brown, it is clear that the most populous state will continue to lead when it comes to the environment, even if it means opposing Trump’s policies. And maybe, just maybe, the old political adage will come true that as California goes, so goes the nation.
Image credit: Flickr/Tony Webster
Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.