California lawmakers passed an historic bill on Friday night that requires the state to source 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. While that’s good news for the environment, the bill that got passed was a shadow of its former self. According to ThinkProgress, the version of Bill SB 350 that was passed into law did not include a previous commitment to reduce petroleum use in automobiles by 50 percent, which was removed from the bill days before it was passed, largely due to oil industry lobbying and the defection of a group of moderate democrats.
The Clean Energy and Reduction Act, as it is known, will see California bump up its Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to 50 percent by 2030, and also require the state to bring in a 50 percent increase in the energy efficiency of its buildings during the same period. This, combined with an executive order from Governor Jerry Brown in January that requires the state to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and again to 80 percent by 2050, puts California on the leading edge of climate change action in the world. And environmentalists are lauding the goals.
“Today, California demonstrated once again that it is a world leader in tackling the climate crisis, protecting public health, and expanding the booming clean energy economy,” Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune said in a statement. “Ensuring that renewable energy makes up half of all electricity sold in the state by 2030 is both necessary and eminently achievable — and the significance of this move will echo around the world.”
The stripping of automobile fossil fuel goals from the bill to meet the demands of the fossil fuel lobby has tarnished the victory for some California lawmakers. But governor Jerry Brown said he remains optimistic.
“Oil has won the skirmish, but they’ve lost the bigger battle,” he told the New York Times. “Because I am more determined than ever to make our regulatory regime work for the people of California: cleaning up the air, reducing the petroleum and creating the green jobs that are going to put hundreds of thousands of people to work over the coming decades.”