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Jerry Brown: a new direction on eco-issues?

Jerry budget van der brug
With all the budget cutting and tax talk coming out of Sacramento, newly elected California Gov. Jerry Brown's eco-agenda might seem to be on the back burner. But UCLA Law School's environmental policy activists are aiming to nudge it to the fore.

"California's economic future depends on its environmental health," warned a report released Thursday by the school's Emmett Center on Climate Change and the Environment and the Evan Frankel Environmental Law & Policy program. It cautioned that the public health costs of failing to protect natural resources "will prove to be a drain on the state's economy."

The report, "An Environmental Blueprint for California," amounts to a dense, 19-page wish list of initiatives, some of which build on former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's policies, such as cutting greenhouse gas emissions 80% by mid-century. Others would change course, such as tightening toxic chemical regulations that the Schwarzenegger administration had softened in response to industry opposition.

"The budget situation creates risk that many important programs will be cut," said Sean B. Hecht, executive director of UCLA's Environmental Law Center. "Some interest groups are trying incorrectly to frame environmental protection, clean energy and climate protection as detrimental to the economy." He noted that voters in November approved Proposition 26, a measure requiring two-thirds approval of governing bodies for environmental and other fees on industry.

Some of the blueprint's recommendations are tough, even politically quixotic: Increasing the gas tax to fund public transportation; pushing congestion pricing to charge drivers fees to enter traffic-choked areas; funding state parks through vehicle fees — a measure rejected by voters in the November election; hiking insurance for homes and businesses in areas of high wildfire risk; and forcing local governments to pay for firefighting in those areas.

Brown takes office "at a critical moment in California's history [when] the state's long-term prosperity is vulnerable to climate change, energy insecurity, environmental threats to public health and a growing scarcity of key resources," the report declared. "The governor has a tremendous opportunity to set our state on the right path."

Other recommendations include:

  • Paying more consumers higher prices for electricity they generate on their rooftops and feed back to the grid — a mechanism known as a "feed-in tariff." Feed-in tariffs caused solar energy to explode in Germany but have been fought by California utilities, which prefer big, centralized power plants.
  • Require disclosure of energy use when homes are sold — as is now the rule with commercial property. That would reward energy efficiency.
  • Push legislation to create a statewide network of mandatory local groundwater management programs.
  • Push legislation to require strict conservation by agricultural water suppliers.
  • Raise $1 billion through fees on toxic discharges, royalties and fishing quotas — as recommended by the California Ocean Protection Council.
  • Push legislation to provide stable funding for the state's Green Chemistry program.
  • Monitor ultra-fine particles — or soot — near major roadways. The particles are a cause of asthma and a factor in heart disease.
  • Hecht said the report's authors had not spoken to the governor or his aides about their recommendations yet. But he added, "We hope our report will give the governor more confidence that environmental issues are worth spending political capital on."

    Besides Hecht, the authors of the blueprint are Cara Horowitz, executive director of the Emmett Center, and UCLA environmental law fellow M. Rhead Enion.


    Environmentalists ask Brown to reverse pesticide approval

    California's new eco-laws: curbs on toxics, tax breaks for green business

    Schwarzenegger's environmental legacy: green or olive-drab?

    -- Margot Roosevelt

      Photo: Gov. Jerry Brown at a budget briefing. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

    Comments () | Archives (6)

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    Expreience keeps a dear school, yet fools will learn in no other.

    hello. the guy has the official loose leaf binder. i live in an alternative lifestyle, where hydrogen produces clean, free, abundant energy for everyone; and the EPA and the Department of Education are useless, and no longer draining state revenues into bankruptcy. non polluting hydrogen, powerful hydrogen, free hydrogen- it's right there everywhere, and we have the means to harvest it and burn it at no cost to: supply, the environment, nor your pocket. we could run hydrogen powered electrical generators at zero cost, hydrogen fuel cells at zero cost, hydrogen rockets at zero cost- the hydrogen could be free. free electricity for everything i use in my environment. as much as i want, always; and the generation does not pollute the environment. but we should stay with fossil fuels.

    The people who use the term "climate quackery" all voted for Meg Whitman.

    Brown has always been a believer in eco friendly solutions. If we had listened to him and Carter we would be better off today.

    Carter is seen as a failure by some, but he was giving us valuable information. We were too full of ourselves to listen. "America is the Greatest Country in the World!" Which will allow us to continue to be wasteful indefinitely.

    Green can Wait.
    In spite of the Prop 23 defeat, Gov. Brown should “man up” to help California’s struggling economy by suspending the Prop 32 climate law compliance mandates under its Section 38599 citing exception for “… extraordinary circumstances, catastrophic events, or threat of significant economic harm” (Calif. Health & Safety Code, Div. 25.5, Chapter 488, Part 7, et. seq.) As governor, Schwarzenegger has twice this year declared a “state of emergency” in California due to continuing state budget deficits of over 20%, chronic unemployment and other financial difficulties.

    Continue reading on Schwarzenegger lame duck can stop climate quackery - Los Angeles Ecopolitics |

    I agree with this "California's economic future depends on its environmental health." Therefore, we must take good care of the environment.

    Great! Couldn't agree more about generous, German-style Feed in Tariffs. They are critical to our economic, real estate, jobs, open space, water and clean energy future, and it is despicable that our legislators have let Big Energy bribe, threaten and cajole them into preventing us from being paid fairly for producing clean, non-deadly energy right where it is needed - in our built environment.

    It went unreported, but the initial rate proposed by the administrative law judge to "compensate" ratepayer-generators who produce more power than they consume (either by investing in a larger PV system, conserving power or both) was SIX MEASLY CENTS per kWh. That is so outrageous I had to stop myself from screaming out loud. So not only is net-metered power not counted towards the RPS (creating a false "need" for centralized monopoly solar power) but now they are basically punishing people for doing the right thing and investing in our state and our planet's well-being. Unreal.

    We need a SERIOUS CHANGE in this state, and it needs to start by purging the good ole boys (and girls!) in the CPUC and turning that into an agency that works for Californians, not for Big Energy (CEC, we are watching you, too). Then we need to immediately implement a German-Style feed in tariff so that WE can be paid fairly for producing clean power without killing millions of acres of wilderness (like Big Solar will do). If the utilities don't like it, who cares?

    Great job, UCLA. I will be reading your report with interest!


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