06/22/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Earth Day 2010: Progress Towards a Green California

As we celebrate our rich history of environmental action on Earth Day this week, Californians are also seeing some clear signs of progress on green issues that are critical to our future.

This week, the Environmental Protection Agency announced a $1.5 million "brownfield" grant for Southern California. The grants will be used to clean up and redevelop abandoned gas stations, old textile mills, closed smelters, and other abandoned industrial and commercial properties. This important step is a welcome sign for California communities exposed to this blight, and it complements our statewide efforts to help revitalize our economy through green technologies and jobs.

As one of the authors of the legislation creating the state's Green Collar Jobs Council, I want to make sure California can meet the growing demands of the emerging green economy. That's why this year I am authoring Assembly Bill 2696, which allow for federal funding and grant allocation through the Council, to help spur companies to hire more employees for their expanding green businesses.

In addition to being at the forefront of creating green collar jobs, California took historic steps towards ending the water crisis that has plagued our state for far too long. For me, the passage of a water compromise after a 22 hour session represents the fulfillment of a commitment I made when I was sworn in as Speaker. One of the first things I did as Speaker was visit the Central Valley. I saw first hand the conditions of farm workers and businesses and residents and was surprised in some places this was still California. Seeing the situation here first hand helped begin inspire me to find a comprehensive solution.

In the California Legislature we also remain committed to implementing and advancing AB 32, our landmark global warming bill, which rolls back greenhouse gas emissions in California to 1990 levels by 2020. We don't believe there should be a moratorium on AB 32, because AB 32 will be a driver for jobs and investment in California. That's why venture capitalists and one of the state's major utilities backed AB 32. One study found meeting the limit we've established will create 83,000 jobs. UC economists also predicted a boost to our state's annual Gross Product of $60 billion. There are a lot of things we need to do to restore the state's financial condition--killing off opportunities in the new green economy shouldn't be one of them. As Speaker of the Assembly, I fought against budget attempts to defund AB 32 and I continue to protect and support the successful implementation of this important measure.

From the promotion of green collar jobs to the preservation of our most valuable estuaries and coastlines, I am proud of our current and past efforts here in the Golden State where in many ways every day is Earth Day.