As Jim Evans, Communications Director for Sen. Steinberg, notes, the Governor is poised to veto a bill he championed, which would mandate the highest renewable energy standard in the nation, requiring utilities to get 33% of their energy from renewable sources by 2020. But it’s far worse than just a veto. Schwarzenegger wants to then set the standard himself by executive order. You can see why this would please him – he would be able to say that he boldly moved the state forward in the renewable energy space, while vetoing the bill from the Legislature that would do the same thing. And he wold significantly weaken the standard in a variety of ways.
The order presumably would set no limit on how much of the green power could be imported from other states.
Environmentalists who have been told about the governor’s still-evolving plans said Schwarzenegger also was considering directing the California Air Resources Board to look at broadening the state’s definition of renewable energy sources to include large hydroelectric dams and nuclear energy plants.
Critics questioned whether Schwarzenegger’s order would be binding once he leaves office at the end of 2010. The validity of the order would be subject to a variety of potential legal challenges, they predicted.
So Schwarzenegger would allow utilities to outsource all the green jobs that would be created if power needed to be created on California soil, ruining the one area of potential economic recovery in the bill. He would put the standard on shaky legal ground, open to litigation and an unclear mandate. And he would hand a gift to the nuclear power industry by twisting arms at the Air Resources Board to change their definition of renewable energy.
This isn’t just short-sighted, it’s downright criminal. A high renewable standard could spurn all kinds of economic activity, but without a limit on importation, that activity will just go elsewhere instead of California. This is an effort of questionable legality for Schwarzenegger to reward corporate cronies with lower purchasing prices for green energy at the expense of California jobs.