California can lead the way to a brighter, healthier future

09/12/2017 01:39 pm ET Updated Sep 27, 2017
Photo by Environment California Clean Energy Intern Emma Price

Guest Post From My Colleague, Michelle Kinman, Environment California Clean Energy Advocate

When you live in a state with 3,427 miles of shoreline, six of the top 10 U.S. metro areas with the worst year-round air pollution and refineries that process about 84 million gallons of petroleum every day, you don’t have the luxury of willful ignorance or cynicism about climate change and the devastation it can inflict.

As the Trump administration works to roll back decades of environmental progress at the federal level, it’s up to state and local governments — none with more clout than California, home to the world’s sixth-largest economy — to fill the leadership and policy gaps to create a safer and healthier future.

Senate Bill 100 would shift our state to 100 percent renewable and zero carbon electricity by 2045. The bill, authored by California Senate President Kevin de León, mandates that California get 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2026 (four years earlier than currently required) and 60 percent by 2030, leading up to the ultimate 2045 goal.

SB 100 is popular — 76 percent of Californian adults support the bill and it has earned the endorsement not only of environmental groups, but leaders in the environmental justice, public health, labor, faith and business communities. If California’s Assembly does the right thing and passes the bill by September 15, the Golden State will take a giant step toward thwarting the public health crises and natural disasters that climate change portends.

Momentum is growing for renewable energy across California. Cities including Lancaster, Monterey, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Solana Beach have publicly committed to 100 percent clean energy. And dozens of cities across the state have either pledged to uphold the Paris Accord that President Trump abandoned or agreed in their city plans to cut carbon emissions by 80 to 100 percent.

Of course, some utilities oppose it because they’re reluctant to change their own outdated business models. None of this will matter if we don’t do all we can to solve climate change.

Other state and local governments are already fighting for clean futures. In 2015, Hawaii became the first state to commit to achieving 100 percent renewable electricity by 2045. The Massachusetts state legislature is also considering a 100 percent renewables bill.

This state level activity is complemented by initiatives at a growing number of major businesses, institutions and cities across the country. Together, states, cities and private enterprise can overcome federal inertia. And by setting lofty, yet achievable, goals, our local governments are codifying that we have to make changes to combat global warming. We have the will as a people to work together and make this happen.

Our transition to a clean energy system has already begun. But the need to reduce the pollution that causes global warming grows more urgent every day, so we need to step up the pace. To maximize the benefits of moving to 100 percent renewable energy, leaders at all levels must act to accelerate our progress. America’s energy policy should facilitate mass deployment of clean energy solutions, support research and development of new clean energy technologies, and keep coal, oil and gas reserves in the ground.

So regardless of the Trump administration’s actions, we as Californians can band together to keep our environment clean, healthy and safe. It’s up to our legislators to fulfill the will of the people.

Michelle Kinman isn’t just the Clean Energy Advocate for Environment California. She’s a mom who sees the Torrance refinery out of her home windows, providing a daily reminder of the dangers of our reliance on fossil fuels.

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