Lawmaker discusses far-reaching California climate bill

Sen. Kevin de Leon, president pro tem of the California state Senate, is not only confident a climate-change bill will pass the Legislature and be signed into law. He fully expects the rest of the nation to follow California’s lead.

“Leadership does matter. That’s why we will not wait,” de Leon said last week during an energy discussion in Sacramento.

The lawmaker went on:

“We have never waited for Washington, D.C. To be honest with you, while Washington, D.C., dithers on this issue, between members who are negative, climate-change deniers altogether when the empirical data is there … We’re not waiting for that. We’re not gonna wait for Washington, D.C. We never have; we never will. We are the state of California, and we are the leaders nationally. And they’re gonna have to follow, and they will eventually follow what is done here.”

Senate Bill 350 passed the Senate on June 3 and now goes to the Assembly. If it’s approved there and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, the state will have achieved an ambitious plan that could have a huge impact on transportation and power generation in the state, and could affect the state’s economy long into the future.

The bill sets three goals to be achieved by 2030: cut petroleum use by 50 percent; increase the amount of renewables in electricity generation by 50 percent; and boost efficiency of buildings by 50 percent.

To discuss the measure, the group Diesel Technology Forum sponsored a gathering called “50/50/50 by 2030: Transportation and the California Energy Challenge. Carl Cannon, the Washington bureau chief of the website Real Clear Politics, moderated the event and interviewed de Leon.

De Leon said that if SB350 passes, it will save consumers money from “better fuel efficiencies” as well as reduce smog. “Air pollution knows no boundaries of political ideologies,” he said. The Democrat called the network of freeways in his Los Angeles district a “serpent that chokes the air out of a young child’s lungs.”

The bill was among several related to climate change passed by the Democrat-controlled Legislature. “These measures together represent the most far-reaching measures dealing with climate change, not in the history of California or the history of the country, but I would go a step further and say in the history but the world.”

De Leon said he’s looking forward to a “vigorous debate on the merits of the measure itself. … I think it’s going to be fun.” Democrats easily outnumber Republicans in both houses of the Legislature (26 out of 40 in the Senate; 52 out of 80 in the Assembly), but de Leon said that some Republicans had said to him privately that they “concurred that something must be done about this issue. Politically, that’s another issue altogether. But privately, I’ve heard on numerous occasions that ‘I agree with you, but it’s extremely difficult for us to do anything about this.’ ”

Watch the interview here:

And watch a panel discussion, with energy expert Amy Myers Jaffe and others:

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  1. […] by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Brown had a component that would have called for a 50-percent reduction in petroleum use by 2030, but it was pulled after intense lobbying and ad spending by oil interests. Here’s […]

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