California clean energy: "No on 23" is back
Former Secretary of State George Shultz and San Francisco hedge fund manager Thomas Steyer are resurrecting the successful alliance between clean-tech businesses and environmental groups that defeated Proposition 23 last November.
The new non-partisan group, calling itself “Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs,” will support the rollout of new regulations under the state’s ambitious global warming law, which survived the initiative that would have delayed its implementation.
And, with opposition growing to the renewal of California’s nuclear plant licenses, and gas prices surging higher, the group will seek to shore up Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to vastly expand the state’s reliance on solar and wind power.
“How many times can you be hit on the head with a two-by-four?” Shultz said at a Friday press conference. “I go back to the Arab oil embargo of 1973. Clean energy is going to protect our national security.”
The new organization has $1 million in the bank, left over from the initiative campaign, and is planning to raise more. Its partners include the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, with a membership of high-tech companies, and such environmental groups as the California League of Conservation Voters and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Shultz, a Republican who helped rally corporate leaders during the ballot initiative, said the group would have a business focus, making sure that AB 32, the global warming law to curb emissions of greenhouse gases, “is not disrupting to the state’s economy.”
California can show Washington, where climate legislation has stalled, that “putting a price on carbon — you can go about it in a way that is gradual,” he said. “We are on the right track.”
A bill is currently moving through the Legislature to require a third of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources. Brown has placed a new emphasis on rooftop solar arrays, saying that 12,000 of 20,000 new megawatts of renewable energy could come from such locally generated sources.
Steyer said the new group would also promote energy efficiency by reaching out to owners of the state’s 9 billion square feet of commercial office space to educate them about energy auditsand gaining access to retrofit programs. “No one has sent out staff before to help them change their behavior,” he said. “Saving energy, not just building new renewables, is the killer app.”
A San Francisco Superior Court last week put the implementation of California's global warming law on hold after finding that the state had not given adequate consideration to alternatives to a cap-and-trade regulation, but legal analysts did not expect the decision to delay new rules under the act.
Photo: In the fall of 2010, Los Angeles protesters against Proposition 23 marched on Tesoro's Wilmington refinery to protest against the company's backing for the initiative to suspend California's global warming law. Credit: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times