California alternative energy legislation gets broad backing

June 25, 2010 at 11:42 AM Leave a comment

Reporting from Sacramento —

The Gulf of Mexico oil spill is spurring California legislators and conflicting interest groups to settle past differences and adopt the nation’s toughest renewable energy law to reduce the state’s dependence on oil and serve as a model for other states.

The effort is supported by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is eager to burnish his environmental legacy before leaving office in January even though he vetoed a similar bill last fall.

Both the governor and the Democrats who control the Legislature want to require privately and publicly owned electric utilities to generate one-third of their power from wind, solar and other clean sources by 2020.

After last fall’s veto, Schwarzenegger issued an executive order unilaterally imposing the 33% renewable standard. But Democrats denounced the action as mainly symbolic because it does not bind future governors.

This year, Democrats came back with a compromise bill, which has its first legislative hearing Thursday in the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee.

“One needs only to look to the Gulf of Mexico and the tragedy and what happens when you just rely on oil,” Schwarzenegger said at an alternative fuel summit last week. “It is shameful how desperate and how dependent we have become on fossil fuels.”

With images of gushing crude and oil-covered birds dominating TV screens, Schwarzenegger’s chief of staff, Susan P. Kennedy, said environmentalists, utilities generators, labor unions and other industry groups that waged war over last year’s bill now are meeting at least weekly and are closing in on a deal.

“I’m very optimistic,” she said. “There’s always been a consensus around the goal. It’s simply a matter of identifying what the obstacles are in the implementation.”

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Entry filed under: Conservation, Energy, environmental news, Green Help, National News, Oil. Tags: , , , , .

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