- REUTERS/Gerardo Garcia
- California is kicking its climate change fight into overdrive by passing a bill requiring 100% of its energy to come from carbon-free sources by 2045.
- The move represents the latest in the state’s ideological differences with President Donald Trump regarding environmental regulation. While Trump campaigned that he would reinvigorate the nation’s coal industry, this bill will ban all coal-sourced electricity.
- California joins Hawaii as the only other state with this same goal.
California reaffirmed its commitment to combatting the effects of climate change Tuesday when lawmakers passed a historic bill mandating that all of the state’s electricity come from carbon-free sources by 2045.
Electricity production accounts for the second-largest share of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions after transportation, which have been heavily linked to global warming. Nearly 68% of electricity in the US came from burning fossil fuels, consisting mainly of coal and natural gas, according to a 2016 study from the Environmental Protection Agency.
California’s latest push to lower carbon emissions represents the latest clash between the state’s environmental regulation efforts and those of the Trump administration.
California lawmakers, who had already committed to making sure that 50% of its electricity came from renewable sources by 2030, raised that requirement to 60% with the bill’s passage Tuesday, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
Contrarily, President Donald Trump promised throughout his 2016 campaign that he would help revive the country’s once-dominant coal industry by stripping away President Barack Obama’s 2015 Clean Power Plan. Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which created greater environmental requirements for coal-generated power plants, was similarly aimed at lowering carbon emissions.
The bill comes as California grapples with its worst wildfire in state history. The Mendocino Complex fire in the northern part of the state, which started in late July and has yet to be fully contained, has scorched more than 410,000 acres of land as of Wednesday evening, according to numbers released by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
While the amount of land burned in the western United States has doubled since 1984 due to the effects of climate change, according to a 2016 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Trump blamed California legislators for the state’s wildfires, claiming that “bad environmental laws” affecting the state’s water use is what contributed to the fires.
Hawaii made a similar carbon-free energy commitment in 2015. Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Washington D.C., are following suit.
California municipal lawmakers opposing the bill argued taxpayers could see higher electricity bills because of new environmental regulations that could raise the cost of production.
“One fact you cannot dispute: this does increase the cost,” Bill Brough, a Republican assemblyman from Orange County told The Times. “You cannot dispute that this is going to be passed on to the ratepayers.”
Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign the bill into law in September.