Bait And Switch: The Governor’s Executive Order To Destroy California’s Green Economy

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.


16 thoughts on “Bait And Switch: The Governor’s Executive Order To Destroy California’s Green Economy”

  1. What about nuclear power isn’t renewable again?

    Can we stop fighting against good solutions?  The nuclear power protests in the 70s and 80s that stopped the NRC from continuing to license new plants has been the worst thing to happen for environmentally conscious energy sources and has been solely responsible for the construction of many new dirty power plants.

    If people would stop fighting nuclear power we could have our grid on 50% renewable sources by 2020 and could be getting clean fresh water either through steam reclamation or by running desal during plant downtimes.  (The biggest cost of desal is energy usually, since you generally don’t offline nuclear plants when grid demand goes down as offlining and onlining a nuclear core on a daily basis is a bad way to manage a nuclear power plant, you put that power into desal basically for free.)  Japan, a country that knows a hell of a lot better why nuclear technologies can be dangerous than we do, does this.  We should be leading on this renewable power source that also makes desal easier, instead we’re bickering and pretending erecting ugly wind towers or blanketing beautiful desert environments with pricey solar panels are okay.  Apparently since desert isn’t beautiful enough it’s perfectly okay to spoil it?  I don’t understand the logic here.  All of the proposed alternatives involve the massive destruction of open space.

    I don’t like the governor doing this the way he’s going about it any more than you do, but I find it completely irresponsible that Calitics could still be arguing against an amazing source of renewable energy.

    And yes, I’d prefer fusion to fission, but since we haven’t funded ITER and we’ve been neglecting to fund fusion research for the last 40 years we can hardly bitch too loudly that the energy crisis has come and it’s not ready yet now can we?  Fission will transition us to fusion eventually and allow us a clean grid in a reasonably cost-effective (bonus!) way in the meantime.

  2. one argument that may lose steam is that re: green jobs leaving California.  Boxer is adding a nuclear title to ACES in the hopes of attracting certain pro-nuke Republicans (e.g., Alexander and McCain).  I surmise that she’ll include nuclear power as part of the RES.  So once the RES is national, no one will need to threaten to move green jobs from state to state.  Of course, this requires that ACES actually pass the Senate, a different story….

  3. “Green” is just a fashionable thing right now, a way to brand products and charge more money for them. Whether they actually do anything or not is irrelevant – people need to feel better and there are too many liars, like Newsom and Schwarzenegger, who love to talk about all things green and get lots of accolades from the liberals, but when it comes to making hard decisions, they’re full of crap and are usually lying.

  4. …let’s stipulate that nuclear waste is no more dangerous than say…sawdust. Sawdust actually has a MSDS for it and it’s not a benign substance but let’s just say that the Nuke Nuts are right about that….

    Who’s going to provide the insurance for this wonderful new batch of projects. The real reason that no new plant has been built in the U.S. is that our stalwart insurance companies want no part of underwriting a ‘Three Mile Island’ event. So…..

    That leaves us taxpayers to foot the bill. Sorry pal but even the U.S. Senate ain’t that stupid.

    Get back to us ‘treehuggers’ when you grow a brain. Or…we can store all the spent rods at your house.

Comments are closed.