The California State Assembly on Tuesday voted 43-32 on a bill that aims for 100 percent renewable energy by 2045, one of the nation’s toughest clean energy mandates.
Should the bill become law, California has to entirely transition away from fossil fuel electricity in less than three decades. Utilities would also have to get 50 percent of their energy from solar, wind or other specific renewable sources by 2026 and 60 percent by 2030. The legislation requires the state to slowly transition away from natural gas, which is California’s top electricity source.
Senate Bill 100, introduced by Sen. Kevin de León, (D-Los Angeles), was approved in the Senate last year. Both chambers now must agree on amendments, but it is expected to be finalized by Friday before heading to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk for approval. The Democratic governor is poised to sign it into law, The New York Times reported.
Climate activists and environmental groups have hailed the plan as a critical step forward in the battle against climate change. The bill’s passage in California will serve as a symbolic strike against the Trump administration, which has steadily attempted to erode environmental protections, roll back fuel economy standards and weaken existing rules meant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fire plants.
Opponents have long argued that California’s efforts to combat climate change are futile and fail to make a substantial difference as the planet continues to warm. Some Assembly members warned the bill would hurt workers in the fossil fuel industry and raise prices for utility customers.
The bill is opposed by Pacific Gas and Electric Company, San Diego Gas And Electric Company, Western States Petroleum Association, Agricultural Council of California and more than two dozen others.
The proposal toughens regulations in a state seen as a global leader on climate change.
State lawmakers set a goal two years ago of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders last year extended the state’s cap-and-trade program, a market-based system that allows polluters to buy permits for the greenhouse gases they emit, through 2030. Lawmakers described the cap-and-trade program as the state’s best tool to encourage companies to reduce their carbon footprint and allow the state to reach its greenhouse gas goals.