SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) – Countering the Trump administration’s call for more coal and oil, California Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday inked legislation that requires utilities to obtain 100 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2045.
The climate change mandate forces utilities to incrementally ditch fossil fuels in favor of renewable electricity and joins the Golden State with Hawaii as the only states wholly committed to a zero-carbon energy sector.
Brown says Senate Bill 100 puts California in line with the goals of the United Nations Paris Agreement and prepares the state for the “existential threat” of climate change.
“SB 100 is sending a message to California and the world that we’re going to meet the Paris Agreement and continue down that path to transition our economy to zero-carbon emission, and to have the resiliency and the sustainability that science tells us we must achieve,” Brown said at a bill signing ceremony.
Author and State Sen. Kevin De Leon, D-Los Angeles, says SB 100 will ensure that California’s energy grid won’t “poison” residents while simultaneously creating jobs in the energy industry. A U.S. Senate candidate, De Leon has been working on the ambitious energy legislation for nearly two years.
“Regardless of who occupies the White House, California will always lead on climate change,” De Leon said. “Here in California, Democrats and Republicans agree: climate change is real, it’s here, it’s deadly and it’s extraordinarily expensive.”
The signing comes as the 80-year-old governor prepares to host a global climate conference later this week in San Francisco. The three-day event will feature discussions by climate scientists and appearances by former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg as well as representatives from the United Nations.
California took another stab at the Trump administration over the weekend, with Brown signing legislation to bar any new offshore drilling operations within state waters. The measures, Assembly Bill 1175 and Senate Bill 834, prohibit state agencies from granting new leases for pipelines and other oil infrastructure projects within three miles of California’s coastline.
The bills are meant to stall the Trump administration’s plan to auction off new oil leases in the Pacific Ocean. The federal government hasn’t opened a new lease of California’s coast since 1984, but the U.S. Bureau of Land Management proposed new oil and gas drilling sites earlier this year.
While celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and former Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger nudged Brown to sign SB 100, state Republicans, utilities and business groups blasted De Leon’s measure.
Just one Assembly Republican voted for SB 100 and the California Chamber of Commerce warned it would “threaten the reliability of the grid” while drastically increasing energy costs for California’s poorest residents. Utilities called the goal unrealistic and a regulatory burden.
Assemblyman Chad Mayes, R-Yucca Valley, urged De Leon to pull his bill and come to the bargaining table to find a bipartisan clean energy mandate.
“I think it is important for us to look at this in the interest of all Californians,” Mayes said on the Assembly floor in August. “This bill has a few errors, and those errors are that we are picking winners and we are picking losers.”
Following lengthy debate, the Assembly cleared SB 100 two days before a legislative deadline by a narrow margin. Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher carried the bill by swaying a few skeptical Democrats that initially declined to vote on the bill.
Billionaire activist Tom Steyer, who has spent millions calling for the impeachment of President Donald Trump, lauded California Democrats for passing SB 100. He painted the bill as a major win for environmental justice advocates and thanked Brown at the signing ceremony.
“What [Brown’s] been doing and what he’s helping this entire state do is to reframe the way the world thinks about what’s going on in terms of energy and climate,” Steyer said.
A new survey released Monday by the Public Policy Institute of California echoed Steyer’s claim, with 54 percent of respondents saying it is “very important” that the state is a leader in fighting climate change.
More than two-thirds of the Californians surveyed said global warming is already impacting California, with half saying they are willing to pay more for clean electricity in order to fight global warming.
Along with SB 100, Brown issued an executive order directing the state to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045 and net negative greenhouse gas emissions.
“With Gov. Brown’s order, California establishes the most ambitious carbon neutrality commitment of any major economic jurisdiction in the world – of more than 20 countries and at least 40 cities, states and provinces planning to go carbon-neutral by mid-century or sooner,” Brown’s office said of the executive order.
The fourth-term Democrat has routinely supported climate change legislation during his final term in Sacramento, including a 2016 bill that set another ambitious target of reducing statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2030.
At the signing ceremony, Brown reiterated that the state, country and world should continue pursuing stringent emissions laws.
“Have no illusions, California and the rest of the world have miles to go before we achieve zero-carbon emissions,” Brown said. “But you have to begin, you have to get something done.”