October 4, 2014
California isn’t just trying to make strides in worker protections: The state has also led for years when it comes to environmental regulations. In 2006, Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act, which among other provisions requires California to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020. The Environmental Protection Agency cited that law favorably when it unveiled its recent proposal to cut power plant emissions across the United States.
“California does a lot, probably more than anyone else,” said Kathryn Zyla, managing director of the Georgetown Climate Center at Georgetown University’s law school. The Global Warming Solutions Act, she said, was intended to act as “an umbrella policy under which the state has a lot of other goals to achieve those reductions.”
Since that bill’s passage, California has passed a slate of other reforms aimed at improving energy efficiency and boosting its renewable energy infrastructure. Last October, Gov. Brown partnered with seven other U.S. governors to encourage the manufacture of 3.3 million “zero-emission” electric vehicles by 2025.
The state has also aimed to encourage adaptation in part through a Climate Adaption Strategy mandated by Gov. Schwarzenegger in 2009. Although Republican leadership has often said that state-mandated mitigation and adaptation measures tend to kill jobs and hikes energy bills, Zyla said California’s experience suggests otherwise.
“California has had energy policy for decades, and there’s been quite a bit of analysis on what those policies have done to the economy,” she said. “They’ve generally been pretty positive.”