Author Archives: Wade Crowfoot

California Answers Obama's Call to Seize Our Sputnik Moment

Yesterday’s launch of the “Clean Energy Jobs Initiative” by California’s Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John Perez proved yet again that they are clean energy champions who understand that using smart energy investments, incentives and policies can accelerate the state’s economic recovery and growth.

California is known for innovating game-changing technologies and this initiative will help bolster its ability to compete for a leadership position in the fast-growing, multi-billion dollar clean energy market.

The legislative leaders’ new plan will fuel the fastest-growing economic sector: clean technology.  By increasing demand for renewable energy, expanding incentives for energy efficiency and training a vibrant, talented ‘green’ work force, the “Clean Energy Jobs Initiative” will grow the state’s economy and put more people to work. California already attracts 60 percent of all clean tech venture capital in North America. Over the last five years, more than $9 billion in venture capital has been invested here. The results are hundreds of thousands of new jobs, more than 10,000 companies, and an employment growth rate three times that of the state’s overall economy. These economic benefits are due, in large part, to the state’s landmark clean energy and climate law, AB 32, which passed in 2006.

What’s more, Steinberg and Perez are carrying out the will of the people: last November, Californians overwhelming endorsed the State’s leadership in building a 21st century clean energy economy by resoundingly defeating Proposition 23.  Our fellow citizens and Legislative leaders understand that you can have a strong economy while preserving clean air and healthy communities.

In President Obama’s recent State of the Union address, he highlighted our opportunity to unleash a wave of innovation that creates new industries and millions of new jobs. “This is our generation’s Sputnik moment,” he said, highlighting his plans to send Congress a budget that allows us to invest in, among other things, “clean energy technology, an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people.”

By introducing this initiative, California’s legislative leadership is stepping up to seize our generation’s Sputnik moment.

Posted in Clean Energy, Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32, Politics| Tagged | Comments closed

New Energy in Sacramento: Jerry Brown Takes Office

Movers and shakers from throughout the State descended on Sacramento yesterday to see Jerry Brown become California’s 39th Governor.  You could feel the excitement in the long line that snaked around K Street into the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium for his inauguration. 

Our new Governor didn’t disappoint.  His 16-minute inaugural speech was energetic and frank.  He provided a brutally honest assessment of our broken political process and told an uplifting story about his wife’s ancestors, a courageous lineage of pioneers who settled in California. 

Brown speech—to no one’s surprise—centered on the budget.  He spoke passionately about the need to transcend Sacramento’s partisan political culture and stop using “delay and denial” when making tough budget choices. 

He laid out three principles for his budget proposal:

  1. Speak the truth on budget challenges
  2. No new taxes without the vote of the people
  3. Bring authority closer to the people (aka “realigning” core government responsibilities to local governments)

In a speech that didn’t delve into specifics, it’s notable that Brown singled out clean energy policy as a great economic opportunity for California.  Expanding investment in cleaner energy, he said, can help lead us out of the state’s 10th recession since World War II.

He mentioned one of the boldest pieces of his campaign’s energy platform: generating 20,000 megawatts of renewable energy— enough electricity to power 15 million homes.  Brown said that “sensible and bold decisions” were needed to reach this audacious goal and that we have to focus on the right “laws and rules” to meet it.

Brown’s priority on clean energy reflects a strong mandate voiced by voters, state leaders and private-sector investors: 

  • In soundly rejecting the Dirty Energy Proposition (Prop 23) two months ago, voters reaffirmed their support for California’s approach to securing a clean energy future, improving air quality, creating jobs and competing in the next industrial revolution, a global market that is estimated to be valued at $8 trillion.
  • Leaders in the Assembly and Senate have strong track  records as clean energy champions and are eager to advance energy solutions. 
  • The private sector sees the potential of clean energy: $10 billion in clean tech funding has flowed into California since AB 32 passed in 2006—almost half of all domestic clean energy investments.

Governor Brown’s leadership—combined with these factors—opens a great window of opportunity for California to break new ground in energy.  To paraphrase a 1980s one-hit-wonder, “the future’s so bright (for California clean energy), you gotta wear shades.”

This post originally appeared in the SF Chronicle's City Brights blog.

Posted in Clean Energy, Politics| 1 Response, comments now closed

Taking Climate Change Personally

As summer turns to fall, it’s a good time to take stock of recent efforts on clean energy policy. A lot happened this summer: The Gulf Coast oil spill was finally capped and serious talk occurred in Washington, D.C. about moving the U.S. away from dependence on oil. Unfortunately, little came of this conversation. Climate and clean energy legislation stalled in the Senate and meanwhile, an attack on California’s clean energy law called Prop 23 will be on the November ballot. 

Amidst these political challenges in Sacramento and DC, I thought I’d lighten it up a little by reminding us how we can take action in our own lives to reduce our oil dependence. Simple personal actions we can take: No congressman to convince, no legislation to support. 

With the help of my favorite green guru Mindy Pennybacker, below are ten every day actions you can you can take to shrink your oil footprint while getting outside to enjoy the warm fall weather.

‘Wait’ you say? Can individuals really make a difference on these issues? The answer: Yes! Our collective consumer muscle, which according to Mindy represents 70% of the U.S. economy, matters now more than ever in redirecting the marketplace toward energy and products that rely less on fossil fuels.

Mindy’s new book, Do One Green Thing: Saving the Earth Through Simple, Everyday Choices offers a number of great tips we can use in every day life to protect the Golden State.

Below are the top ten things you can do for the environment today.  Starting from #10… 

10. Say no to bottled water and non-recyclable plastics.
If every American stopped buying water in disposable bottles and used free water from the tap, we'd save at least 17 million barrels of oil a year. That's equivalent to taking one million cars off the road. And certainly we can do our part to reduce the great Pacific Ocean garbage patch. For a list of safer reusable plastics, click here. 

9. Use compost and organic fertilizers in your garden.
Synthetic nitrogen fertilizers, made from fossil fuels, overload the soil with nutrients.  These nutrients run off into waterways and out to sea, polluting groundwater supplies and stimulating the growth of algae which causes oxygen-depleted dead zones in the ocean.  Use natural composts when possible and while you’re at it, complete the composting cycle by putting your food scraps into the green composting bin. More than 200 vineyards and farms in Northern California now use compost from San Francisco instead of man-made fertilizers. 

8. Use green cleaning and personal care products.
Many conventional detergents, liquid soaps and shampoos contain chemicals that harm reproductive development in marine life–and may impact human hormones, too. Keep toxins out of the gay by using one of the many cleaning and cosmetic brands that steer clear of these and other toxic tongue-twisters.

7. Use a nontoxic sunblock.
Headed out for an afternoon in Golden Gate Park or the Oakland hills? Don’t forget safe sunscreen. A widely used sunscreen chemical, known as oxybenzone, has been linked to harming fish and coral. BP-3 is also a suspected human hormone disrupter that's been found in 97 percent of Americans tested by the Centers for Disease Control. 

6. Reduce runoff when washing your car.
For those of us who have driveways, keep soapy, greasy water out of storm drains by washing your cars on flat surfaces instead of sloped driveways and use porous materials like gravel and pebbles for terraces, driveways, and paths.  For car-less BART and Muni riders (you guys are a step ahead!), conserve clean water by taking shorter showers and turning off the tap while sudsing, shaving and brushing teeth. 

5. Drive alone less, use public transportation, carpool, bike & walk more.
Not only are these methods of transport environmentally friendly, they are much cheaper ways of getting around. Casual Carpool is a great way to get around the Bay Area especially if you don’t live near public transportation hubs.  “If enough people reduce driving or switch to more energy-efficient vehicles, gasoline demand would decline and prices would decrease," the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports.  Its basic economics: reduced demand results in reduced production. 

4. Properly inflate your tires.
Believe it or not, low tire pressure wastes over two million gallons of gasoline in the US—every day! Save about a tank of gas a year by keeping your tires properly inflated. And make sure to have your tires correctly aligned to maximize fuel economy. 

3. Use propane/gas or natural charcoal to fire up the grill.
Every July 4th, our 60 million U.S. barbecues emit 225,000 metric tons of CO2.  Use propane and gas tanks that release the least carbon when burned.  Get rid of toxic charcoal that spews sootcook with solid charcoal from well-managed forests instead of toxic-glue-bound briquettes (never dump these on a beach!). The EPA advises a chimney or electric starter instead of lighter fluids, which produce 14,500 tons of smog. Next time you’re headed to Crissy Field for a BBQ, make sure you grab clean charcoal!

2. Turn off lights and avoid air conditioning.
Incandescent light bulbs waste 90% of their energy as heat. Even CFLs waste 30%, so turn off unnecessary lights to keep your space cooler. For those rare, toasty days when you use air conditioning in the Bay Area, turn the temperature up a bit. Air conditioning represents 21% of annual home electricity consumption. A shift from 72°F to 74°F in the summer will save 366 pounds of CO2/year and $28 on the average annual energy bill.

 1. Most importantly, join other Californians to TAKE ACTION. Two Texas oil companies are trying to kill clean energy and air pollution standards in California by killing our landmark law AB32. The oilies have put Prop. 23 on the November ballot, which will allow polluters to avoid our state's clean energy standards, kill competition and jobs from California's emerging clean technology companies, and keep us addicted to dirty, costly oil. 

Join the NO on Prop 23 campaign and fight to keep California’s landmark clean energy policy moving us forward. 

Posted in Clean Energy, Climate, Pacific Ocean, Politics| 2 Responses, comments now closed

Oil companies saying greenhouse gases are not ‘pollution’ = cigarette companies denying health impacts of smoking

As the world experiences the hottest year on record, the oil companies backing Prop 23 are arguing that carbon dioxide (CO2 )—the main greenhouse gas causing climate change—is not pollution. Rather, they say, it is merely an “emission.” 

Really?  Do they think that California voters will be duped that easily? In a campaign full of misrepresentation, this whopper of a lie stands out.  

This double-talk reminds me of the slick mid-century ad campaigns by tobacco companies—featured in the current TV hit Mad Men—that convinced generations of smokers that tobacco brought no health risk. 

Consider this straightforward definition of pollution: “the introduction of harmful substances or products into the environment.”  There’s no doubt that CO2 fits this definition and our basic understanding of the term “pollution.” Of course, the oil industry uses “emissions” because it’s a scientific term that isn’t as easily understood as “pollution.” When the truth is ugly, there’s a tendency to dress it up with fancy words and confusing descriptions. 

Numerous studies show that CO2 does indeed have direct and local health impacts. The latest research was done by Stanford University Professor Mark Jacobson, who I was with on a panel yesterday at this year’s CAPCOA Climate Forum.

Jacobson studied the local health effects of “CO2   domes” that form over cities. He found that these domes could increase urban smog and other air pollution problems, an effect that could cause the premature deaths of 50 to 100 people a year in California and 300 to 1,000 in the continental United States. 

These findings make the case for reducing CO2 emissions at the local level, which is exactly what California is doing through various clean energy and clean air policies, including AB 32.

It’s also undeniable that AB 32 measures—which will increase energy efficiency and our use of solar and wind energy—will reduce the need for coal plants that create air pollution that costs Americans billions of dollars every year in health care and lost productivity.

California already has some of the most polluted air in the country with more than 91% of residents living in counties that got failing grades in air quality

Prop 23 is backed by two of California’s—and this country’s—largest polluters. California voters are smart. They know that a vote against Proposition 23 is a vote for cleaner air and a healthier environment.

Posted in Clean Energy, Climate, Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32, Politics| 2 Responses, comments now closed

Climate War Moves to California

California has emerged as a key battleground state in EDF’s national effort to move America toward a clean energy future.  When Californians go to the polls in November, they’ll be deciding on the state’s landmark climate and energy policy—an outcome that will have national and international ramifications. 

Outlets from Bloomberg to the Wall Street Journal are cover the brewing battle that will shape what happens next on the national climate policy front: 

  • Bloomberg just ran a story quoting a Deutsche Bank AG executive (who oversees billions of dollars in climate related investments) saying, “It would be a big setback for clean energy in the U.S. if California’s climate-change law is overturned.”  He said that if the most populous state backs away, it would give other states and the federal government “a free pass to do nothing” on curbing greenhouse gases. 
  • Grist quoted a CEO saying, "If AB 32 is sustained by the voters of California, you will have the largest plebiscite in the history of the climate change debate cast by voters in the world's seventh largest economy. If AB 32 survives and Jerry Brown gets elected governor, I think you'll have cap-and-trade nationally by 2013. 

Proposition 23 is at the epicenter of the debate.  It is a great example of dirty energy efforts to kill our largest domestic clean energy economy. Bankrolled by Texas-based oil companies Tesoro and Valero, two of California's biggest polluters, Prop 23 would kill the climate policy known as AB 32 until state unemployment drops and stays below 5.5% for a full year. Since that rate has occurred just three times in the past 40 years, Prop 23 would effectively delay AB 32 far into the foreseeable future. 

California’s climate law passed in 2006 with bi-partisan support. It was the nation’s first statewide limit on greenhouse gas pollution. It spurred national efforts, serves as a model for federal legislation and features a roadmap for reducing pollution that calls for renewable energy and “smart grid” investments, stronger energy efficiency standards and transit-oriented housing development.  

Setting a cap on emissions has helped California catalyze clean tech investments, start a green industrial revolution and create jobs.  Since ‘06, California has captured 60% of U.S. clean tech investment. Its economy is creating green jobs—now totalling 500,000 and considered the cornerstone of the state's recovery—10 times faster than any other sector.

It will be 2012 when AB 32 policies are scheduled to take effect. That is unless the oil companies have their way.  Their goal is clear: roll back California’s progress transitioning to cleaner, renewable forms of energy and drive a stake in the heart of states’ leadership on climate policy.

 The stakes couldn’t be higher.  

If the oil industry prevails in California, it will have a lasting chilling effect against passing a national clean energy and climate policy. The U.S. will fall further behind in the $8 trillion clean energy race. It will forego the largest source of job growth at a time when Americans needs jobs the most. 

If, on the other hand, this attack on clean energy policy fails, we will gain tremendous momentum for the climate movement. We will send a loud and clear signal of support that America's largest state is forging ahead and ready to compete in the clean energy future.  

The importance of defeating Prop 23 can’t be understated.  That’s why EDF is part of a broad coalition of business, environmental and labor leaders that are working to win this battle.  If we succeed, we will show the rest of the country and the world just what public support for climate leadership looks like.

Posted in Clean Energy, Politics| 1 Response, comments now closed

Spare me (and yourself): How to reduce Bay Area “Spare the Air” days

If you’ve watched local news or seen a newspaper this week, you may know today’s a Spare the Air day.  Today’s forecast shows where air quality is the worst in the Bay Area.

On summer days when smog makes air unhealthy to breathe, the agency charged with reducing local air pollution issues “Spare the Air Smog Alerts.”  We’re asked to do what we can to cut back on activities that create smog, like unnecessary driving. 

As someone who welcomes gorgeous, hot weather in San Francisco and Oakland, I’ve learned it has an invisible cost.

On Spare the Air days, many local residents are actually advised to limit time and activities outdoors, particularly in the afternoon.  Today, most of the East Bay and South Bay have air that's “unhealthy for sensitive groups” including active children and adults and people with respiratory diseases such as asthma.    

The American Lung Association has a great chart that grades air quality throughout California. It shows that more than 91 percent of Californians live in counties that were assigned failing grades for air quality. San Bernadino County is one that has, on average, 227 days a year of unhealthy air. 

The Bay Areas has a handful of these days every year.  And we’re actually the lucky ones, thanks to our coastal location and cool temperatures.

While Bay Area air is cleaner than other parts of the state, it’s changing.  As temperatures rise in the presence of climate change, the number of pollution alerts is expected to spike as our air quality worsens and threatens one of the things Californians love most—time outside.

This scenario is not inevitable though.  California has some of the strongest air quality laws in the country, including its climate bill, AB 32.  That landmark law—passed in ’06— holds polluters accountable and requires them to reduce air pollution that threatens human health and contributes to climate change.  That bill also launched California to the forefront of the clean technology industry and has brought new jobs and businesses to the State.

But, to no one’s surprise, two of the state’s biggest polluters–Texas-based oil companies Valero and Tesoro–are spending millions of dollars to kill AB 32 by bankrolling a November ballot initiative, Proposition 23.  Of the more than $6 million that’s been spent, 96 percent has come from oil companies, 85 percent of which is from out-of-state.  Their agenda is clear: roll-back California’s progress transitioning to cleaner, renewable forms of energy that will result in cleaner air.

While there are lots of small things we can do to Spare the Air today, one big action is marking the calendar to vote against Prop 23 on November 2.  Casting a ‘no’ vote on Prop 23 is casting a ‘yes’ vote for cleaner air in the Bay Area.

Posted in Climate, Politics| Comments closed

This summer, President Obama can accomplish what 40 years of presidents couldn’t

Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush. They differed in political philosophy, the proper role of government and national priorities – except for one thing. Every president in the last 40 years identified the existential threat to U.S. security of relying on foreign countries for energy and called for the United States to become energy-independent. Unsuccessfully, as it turned out.

(My organization, Environmental Defense Fund, has put together great video showing a montage of these commitments.) 

The awareness of this threat began in the '70s with the Middle East oil embargo. Faced with blocks-long lines at gas stations and bizarre gas-hoarding schemes, President Richard Nixon launched “Project Independence” with a clarion challenge to Americans: "Let this be our national goal: At the end of this decade, in the year 1980, the United States will not be dependent on any other country for the energy we need to provide our jobs, to heat our homes and to keep our transportation moving.”

Nixon knew what Ford, Carter, Reagan and two Bush presidents also came to know: America’s dependence on fossil fuel from other parts of the world threatens our national security, hampers economic growth and clouds our country’s future prosperity. Despite understanding the problem and decrying it, those presidents were unable to solve it. Every day of 2010, Americans will ship about $1 billion to other countries to buy oil.  These billions strengthen regimes that repress their citizens and are hostile to our country.  

The only president in the last 40 years who has not failed to move America toward energy independence is Barack Obama. He still has the chance to make history. Debate over climate change shouldn’t cloud the crystal clear necessity of a federal energy and climate bill that will, at last, move the United States from weakness to strength as we reduce and end our dependence on foreign oil.

Now is the time for President Obama to transcend the failures of past presidents. To do so, he must personally take the lead on this issue–and, as he did with health care reform–drive energy reform over the finish line in Congress.

In the dog days of summer, our legislators are returning to Washington to get down to business with both eyes on November’s potentially epochal election. What could be more patriotic after Independence Day than to pass landmark energy and climate legislation that will strengthen our country, our economy and our leadership in the world?

That stance may sound too optimistic at this political hour. Some pundits carp that passing energy and climate legislation this summer will be “too hard,” “impossible,” “it’s not going to happen.” They were saying the same things about health care reform a scant few weeks before that bill’s historic passage. The difference-maker, if you listen to the insiders: President Obama’s personal involvement. 

Obama set out to be a transformational president. Answering four decades of exhortations from his Oval Office predecessors, Obama can now do for American energy independence what he did for American health care reform: lead the way and show our legislators how to make history while doing their patriotic duty.

Posted in Clean Energy, Climate, Politics| Comments closed

Gushing oil in the Gulf Coast meets gushing oil money in California

Boy oh boy, what a mess in the Gulf of Mexico, brought to us by BP. Millions of gallons of crude oil continuing to gush, along with mumbled excuses and transatlantic trips to yacht races.  Unbelievable. 

Less known is that yesterday, California was delivered its own troubling environmental mess, compliments of two other oil companies, Valero and Tesoro.  

Late yesterday, California’s Secretary of State officially certified a proposition for November’s ballot bought and paid for by these out-of-state polluters. The Dirty Energy ballot proposition—as it deserves to be called—would repeal California’s clean air legislation, AB 32, until the state’s unemployment rate falls to levels we’ve only see three times in 35 years. 

According to the Secretary of State, more than $3 million has been spent to qualify it, 80 percent of that coming from special interests outside of California and 78 percent of which is oil money. Valero's share: $1,050,000. Tesoro's: $525,000. 

You’d think these companies would be cleaning up their own environmental messes instead of looking to create new ones; Valero and Tesoro were recently named the nation's #12 and #32 polluters in the “Toxic 100 Air Polluters” report. 

What does $3 million buy in a California campaign? For starters, signatures that place this attack to our clean air and clean energy standards on the November ballot. Their campaign paid operatives to collect the 400,000-plus signatures needed to qualify it. They've also set up lobbying fronts under innocuous names that are lies – the “California Jobs Initiative,” the “AB 32 Implementation Group” – and paid for distorted "academic research" that claims that anti-pollution AB 32 will kill jobs. They then trumpet the fake findings in the media. Their dirty politics are on par with their dirty energy. 

It’s particularly ironic that Valero and Tesoro are pouring millions into this attack while the Gulf continues to suffer. Oh to be a fly on the wall when Valero chief Bill Kleese and team decided not to spend billion-dollar profits on helping clean up the Gulf, but instead pour money into rolling back environmental laws in California. 

 If the Gulf catastrophe has any silver lining, it’s a wake up call about the energy we need to power America. You don’t have to be a bleeding heart environmentalist to be troubled by these facts: 

  • Every day, we send $1 billion of Americans’ hard earned money to other countries to buy oil, a huge chunk of which goes to hostile, anti-American governments and leaders.    
  • Five-dollars-a-gallon gas is not only a possibility (remember how high prices were when Bush was in office?), it’s an inevitability based on growing demand and finite oil supplies. 
  • Our future economic success relies on access to energy. It’s literally what powers growth.  Without secure domestic, clean energy, we’re hostage to the whims of others' dirty energy supplies. Do we want to stay dependent on countries like Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, now, and leave that future to our children?   

Of course, the specter of another major catastrophe in our own backyard lurks in the wings. If someone would have asked me whether an deep sea well could spew millions of gallons of oil and couldn’t be sealed for months, I would have said "malarkey." A oil tanker running into the Bay Bridge? "Fantasy."  But both became reality. What accident will happen next? And where? Every week, several huge oil tankers filled with crude oil gingerly navigate through the San Francisco bay. Amidst the Gulf Coast disaster, this is cause for concern. 

On its merits, the Dirty Energy Proposition wouldn’t stand a chance in the state that’s been leading America’s environmental progress for 50 years. That’s why the Texas oil companies aren’t going to convince us with merits. They’re going to overwhelm with naked appeals to economic fear delivered by all the crooked, misleading TV and online advertising their money can buy.  

For two months now, every day, we've seen images of the gushing oil well that is fouling our fragile wetlands and ecosystem, as oil washes ashore, covers and kills birds, turtles, whales and fish and threatens livelihoods. It will be interesting to see how Californians react to a local environmental mess in the making that's been bought and paid for by out-of-state oil companies that are already polluting our Golden State.

Posted in Climate, Energy, Politics| 1 Response, comments now closed

On California's Leadership: the Journal Gets it Wrong, Obama Gets it Right

Leave it to dyed-in-the-wool opponents to find a cloud in every silver lining. As clean tech investment and jobs continue flowing into California due in part to the state’s 50-year environmental leadership—as President Obama’s recent visit to a solar company in Fremont underlined—the Wall Street Journal has found a convenient scrap of partisan “evidence” that California’s Clean Air Act (AB 32) will hurt business. 

Taking out of context a narrow – and debatable – state Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) opinion on just one element of AB 32’s impact, the Journal predicted that AB 32 will drive businesses out of the state editorializing, “a state already leading the nation in lost jobs and businesses, home foreclosures and debt doesn't need higher self-imposed energy costs.” 

The real story behind the LAO's latest report on AB 32’s economic impact is much different than the Journal would lead readers to believe. The question the LAO was answering was a “gotcha” query submitted by Assemblyman Dan Logue, who is fronting for Texas oil companies in leading the proposed Dirty Energy ballot initiative to suspend AB 32. 

Logue didn’t broadly ask the LAO to look into how AB 32 is going to affect California business. He cleverly worded his inquiry to ask, in effect, “How will AB 32’s implementation in 2012 affect California business if other Western U.S. states and Canadian provinces aren’t yet ready to implement their own clean air policies?” (italics added) 

Even with that loaded question, all Logue was able to elicit from the LAO was the vague opinion that some energy-intensive businesses might be affected “in the near term;” that is, until other states and provinces in the West – or the entire United States and Canada – adopt similar policies to bring their citizens cleaner, more secure and more efficient energy and transportation technologies. 

Even that mild, hedged response flies in the face of extensive research by others including the California Air Resources Board, which estimates that AB 32 will result in economic growth and significantly cut pollution.  

So who are we going to believe, the Journal’s editors or the numbers showing that California has the largest domestic clean energy economy? 

Here are the facts: AB 32 has helped California's economy. It has made California a magnet for clean tech investment and accelerated the commercialization of renewable energy projects, many in regions of the state that have been hard hit by the recession. To wit:

  • A solar project by Southern California Edison will hire more than 1,200 workers in the state's Inland Empire.
  • Electric carmaker Tesla Motors announced a joint venture with Toyota at the former NUMMI plant in Fremont and expects to hire 1,000 workers.
  • BYD Co., the Chinese auto and battery maker backed by Warren Buffett, is locating its North American headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. It will hire California workers.
  • Spain's leading wind company, Power System will open its U.S. office in San Diego "to bring us closer to our North American customers and enable us to offer our solutions to the wind turbines and solar power markets in this region. " 

Want more facts? California's leadership in transitioning to a clean energy economy has solidified its market leading position with the greatest number of clean tech jobs (500,000 now with 1.2 million jobs forecast by 2020) in the country. It is home to seven of the nation's top 10 clean tech companies, according to the Journal’s own analysis and got more than $2.1 billion in venture capital investment in 2009 – 60 percent of North America's total and 5 times more than our nearest competitor, Massachusetts. In fact, green jobs in California are growing faster than jobs in any other sector. 

When the latest LAO report predicting possible "leakage" of California business to other states was published, several California clean tech business leaders issued a rebuttal.  

Simply put, the Journal got it wrong. President Obama got it right when he visited an innovative solar company in the Bay Area this week, declaring that he wasn't ready to cede American global leadership in clean technology to any other country. He observed that “it’s fitting that this technology is being pioneered here in California. Where else, right? For generations, this part of the country has always embodied the entrepreneurial spirit that has always defined America’s success.” 

The facts speak for themselves. California is attracting and growing businesses that recognize this golden opportunity. Not only can businesses in every industry cut costs by reducing emissions, they can use this opportunity to position their business to compete in the trillion dollar clean-energy market.

Posted in Clean Energy, Climate, Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32| Comments closed

Obama: "The promise of the clean economy is not an article of faith. It's here."

Remember Bill Clinton’s moment in the '92 campaign when he addressed a factory full of workers in New Hampshire about the new economic reality for manufacturing jobs and what it means for the future of our country? (John Travolta recaptured the moment in Primary Colors…ringing any bells?) It was Clinton at his best: direct, empathetic and visionary. 
President Barack Obama had his similar moment yesterday. The scene was a cavernous new manufacturing plant that will produce Solyndra’s advanced technology solar panels. Huge manufacturing floor, bright lights, giant American flag draped stage left.  The crowd of a few hundred included construction workers who built the plant, Solyndra employees that will be building the panels and an array of local officials.  

My visual vantage point of President Obama was between two construction workers with hardhats. A great frame from which to take in the President's vision for the workers assembled around me. 

Fremont, California—explained the President—is a symbol of what we’ve lost in the recent national recession. If California has been hard hit by the downturn, Fremont has been punched in the face. The city lost more than 4,000 manufacturing jobs with the closure of the NUMMI auto plant, which had been a landmark partnership between Toyota and GM to keep jobs in America's auto industry. Thousands of jobs in the community disappeared with the factory’s closure, and it looked like another sad chapter of American industrial decline. 

But luckily, another fate emerged.  Thanks to a $535 million federal loan guarantee from the Department of Energy—one of the key programs of last year’s stimulus program—Solyndra built its manufacturing plant in Fremont.  In the process, the company created thousands of jobs: 3,000 construction workers helped build the facility and companies from 12 states manufactured the equipment that will power it. After it opens, the plant will create thousands of new jobs and companies from 22 states will provide solar panel parts that will assembled at the factory.  Today, Obama drove home the point that Solyndra’s growth symbolizes how we can recapture our economic prosperity in the future. 

And the fate of the shuttered NUMMI plant?  It is being brought back to life.  Governor Schwarzenegger last week announced a new partnership between Toyota and Tesla Motor Company to produce electric cars in that factory. This exciting partnership won’t generate all the jobs that were lost, but it restores 1,200 positions. When combined with Solyndra and other local projects, it's a slow but steady economic recovery thanks in part to California's environmental leadership on clean energy policies. 

The growth of the clean economy, Obama said, is the cornerstone of our economic recovery and future economic growth in communities like Fremont all across America.  “No one is playing for second place” in the international race to become centers of clean technology development, he said. “The promise of the clean economy is not an article of faith. It's here.” 

The President also laid bare the reality that “the heartbreaking spill” drives home the need to find new forms of domestic energy. “We won’t transition from oil tomorrow,” he explained, but the increased risks and costs of drilling show we need energy alternatives.  

To raucous applause, President Obama explained the need to pass comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation this year. “It’s good for the environment, good for the economy, and good for our security.”  

Indeed. Stimulus funding for innovative companies such as Solyndra are powerful resources to help them grow. But, ultimately, if the U.S. is going to step up and become the global leader on clean energy, a federal cap on greenhouse gas pollution is needed to create an even playing field that renewable energy companies such as Solyndra’s can compete on and win. 

The Solyndra story also demonstrates why it's an economic imperative to fend off attacks on clean energy policy like the one being launched by the Dirty Energy Proposition, a measure on California's November's ballot that would, in essence, kill our landmark climate and clean energy bill, AB 32. 

Obama’s moment at Solyndra made the point like I’ve never seen it made before:  Our economic future lies in embracing clean technology, and it’s high time we stepped up to make this promise a reality.

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