While Democrats in DC may be feeling down about the ‘shellacking’ they received in national races, California actually delivered some very important victories. Several of the California candidates and issues before the voters added up to a referendum on the state’s clean energy and climate policies. The results were a resounding affirmation of the direction California is going and bode very well for the renewable and solar industries.
Here are a few of the California results worth highlighting:
- Defeat of Prop 23 – Proposition 23 ("The Dirty Energy Proposition") went down in flames last night with 61% of voters saying ‘no’ to the two Texas oil companies who sponsored it. The proposition would have suspended AB32, California’s defining climate legislation that is the legal basis for the 33% RPS standard and our pending carbon regulation scheduled to go into effect next year. With the defeat, California has a strong mandate from its citizens to continue to lead the country in renewables and solar. Recurrent Energy contributed to the No campaign and I participated through the steering committee. We celebrated a very sweet victory last night in San Francisco with Governor Schwarzenegger and former Secretary of State George Schulz, both of whom provided critical leadership. (More detail on the importance of the victory on Huff Post by Donnie Fowler.)
- Governor Brown – Jerry Brown beat Meg Whitman 54% to 41% in another resounding defeat that had big implications for California’s renewable policies. Whitman had pledged to suspend portions of AB32 even if Prop 23 was defeated. Brown's campain promises included developing 20GW of new renewables, 12GW of which is targeted for in-state distributed generation.
- Friendly Faces in Sacramento – Both Gavin Newsom and Kamala Harris won their respective contests for Lt. Governor and Attorney General. Both are passionate supporters of the environment and renewables. The Lt. Governor sits on the State Lands Commission, chairs the Commission for Economic Development, and appoints numerous regulatory and agency positions. So, Newsom will have an important and influential role in areas that affect our industry in terms of permitting and regulation. Meanwhile at her party last night, Harris stated her intention to use the powers of the AG to litigate important environmental, clean air, and social justice issues for the state.
Going into the election many of us were worried that Californians might backslide on the state's climate and renewables commitments. That would have been bad not only in California, but elsewhere in the nation where California’s leadership on these issues is critical to bringing other states into the fold. We now have a very clear and strong mandate on these issues directly from the voters.
I’m not naïve enough to think it will be easy to get good policies through Sacramento, but with the successes we had last night we certainly stand a much better chance!