California would accelerate its already ambitious low-carbon transition, producing all its electricity from renewable sources by 2045 and half of the total by 2025, under legislation introduced in mid-February by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De León.
“California is not alone in trying to take progressive action on climate in spite of the fossil fuel-friendly rhetoric of the Trump administration,” ThinkProgress reports. “Last week, the cities of Pueblo, Colorado, and Moab, Utah became the first cities to commit to going 100% renewable since Trump took office,” bringing to 23 the number of U.S. cities—including San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, along with red-state communities like Georgetown, TX—that have hit the 100% target or promised to.
“It’s become normalized,” said LA Mayor Eric Garcetti. “It’s not just our city. It’s Michigan, it’s Colorado, it’s Texas, it’s Indiana, it’s South Carolina, it’s North Carolina, it’s Ohio, it’s Nevada. We’ve got cities everywhere. It’s small, it’s big, it’s in between. And it’s growing.” Not to mention Massachusetts, where a target of 100% renewable fuel and electricity by 2050 is before the state House of Representatives.
Greentech Media Staff Writer Julian Spector raised questions about what he saw as the rigidity of new the California targets. “There’s a lot of evidence that 100% renewable energy is not the optimal way to decarbonize the grid,” he wrote. “We don’t know that a 100% renewable approach is the fastest, cheapest, or easiest way to decarbonize the grid. We do know that it will be expensive and hard enough that its own advocates compare it to the most gargantuan collective effort in the nation’s history.”
Politico cast the California action as “needling” Trump and “bracing for a rollback of Obama-era environmental protections”, adding that the initiative “would add state-level protections for species currently listed as endangered or threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.” The legislative package also includes an “effort to impede the Trump administration from transferring federal lands to private developers for oil drilling or other purposes.”
California’s moves on a range of fronts, from environment to immigration, prompted Trump to tell Fox News host Bill O’Reilly the state “in many ways is out of control.”
The catch is that “while California has relied for years on federal waivers from the Clean Air Act to set its own, stricter, clean air standards, Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Scott Pruitt, has left open the possibility that the administration could revoke the state’s authority.”
Which would be a distinctly bad plan, given ex-George W. Bush national security advisor Richard Clarke’s assessment that climate change—not cybersecurity, terrorism, or Russian interference in the 2016 election—is the biggest security threat the Golden State faces.
“Californians and anyone living on the coast need to be worried about sea level rise, which can happen much faster than we anticipated,” Clarke warned, in a talk to a leading cybersecurity conference last month.
“You are going to be spending huge amounts of money on flood control and reconstruction of infrastructure,” he said. And “if sea level rise happens to the extent it could…when you have millions of people who are on the move…that usually results, as we’ve seen in the Syrian refugee crisis, in political disruption and security problems.”