Politics

Gov. Jerry Brown's Inaugural Speech Proposes Ambitious Climate Change Goals

| by Edward Arnold
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Gov. Jerry Brown is setting high goals for the state of California. Entering a record fourth term in office, the 76-year-old Governor announced ambitious environmental goals in his inaugural speech on Monday.

The speech also pushed toward transforming California's most important industries, including education, health care and infrastructure.

Already leading the nation in energy efficiency, Governor Brown detailed three specific goals to reduce carbon pollution and limit gas emissions even more by 2030.

First, Brown wants to see 50 percent of California's electricity derived from renewable energy sources. As of now, California's 2020 goal calls for 33 percent of its energy to be renewable. The Associated Press reports that California is currently at 25 percent.

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Second, the use of petroleum in cars and trucks will be reduced by 50 percent by 2030. The California Air Resource Board explains that cars and trucks account for almost half of California's greenhouse gas emissions. If California meets this goal, the use of alternate fuels will double and gas emissions would be reduced by 80 percent. California's previous policy was to reduce petroleum 30 percent by 2030.

Third, Brown called for doubling the efficiency of buildings and making heating fuels cleaner.

"Taking significant amounts of carbon out of our economy without harming its vibrancy is exactly the sort of challenge at which California excels," Brown said in his speech. "This is exciting, it is bold and it is absolutely necessary if we are to have any chance of stopping potentially catastrophic changes to our climate system."

The attempt to reduce methane, carbon and other pollutants will be spread across several initiatives such as expanding rooftop solar, installing mirco-grids, distributing power and integrating information technology.

The LA Times reports that this speech will help solidify Brown's legacy as a green-minded politician.

Yet, Governor Brown's goals for California did not stop with climate change.

On education, he wants to channel additional money to school districts with low-income students and implement new Common Core Standards.

He wants to continue the work California started with the Affordable Care Act, projecting another 12.2 million people to sign up this year.

The long-term infrastructure challenges that the state faces will be addressed as well. Most important of all, the $7.5 million water bond and spending plan will be enacted to fix California's devastating water shortage.

Governor Brown urged Republicans and Democrats to work on legislation to address the estimated $59 billion in needed road and highway maintenance. He also has plans for a $68 billion bullet train project to accommodate travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco.

“Each year, we fall further and further behind and we must do something about it,” he said.

Governor Brown repeatedly referred to his family's deep roots in California, including how we face the same problems his father did when he was governor in 1959.

“That was 56 years ago,” Brown said, "yet the issues that my father raised at his inauguration bear eerie resemblance to those we still grapple with today: discrimination; the quality of education and the challenge of recruiting and training teachers; the menace of air pollution, and its danger to our health; a realistic water program; economic development; consumer protection; and overcrowded prisons."

The challenges ahead are full and plenty, yet Governor Brown wants to take them head on.

“We are at a crossroads," he said. "With big and important new programs now launched and the budget carefully balanced, the challenge is to build for the future, not steal from it, to live within our means and to keep California ever golden and creative, as our forebears have shown and our descendants would expect."

Sources: Transcript, Associated Press, LA Times, Bloomberg BNA / Photo Credit: NBC LA