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Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles before signing a pared-down climate change bill that will increase renewable energy generation and make buildings more energy efficient. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

California Gov. Brown
Signed Climate Change Bill

Thursday, October 8, 2015, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

From the Los Angeles Times

California launched an ambitious effort Wednesday to expand renewable energy and increase energy efficiency, advancing Gov. Jerry Brown's plans for battling climate change.

Brown signed the new goals into law at Griffith Observatory, where the panoramic view of smog across the Los Angeles Basin provided a reminder of the work to be done.

Although the state's air quality has improved over the years, Brown said, more must be done to improve Californians' health, and the state must continue setting the standard for halting global warming.

“We are talking about the big world of avoiding climate catastrophe, but we are talking about the immediate world of people living in Riverside, Los Angeles and other places,” Brown said. “This is big. It is big because it is global in scope, but it is also big because it is local in application.”

Under the legislation, which builds upon standards already on the books, California will need to generate half of its electricity from renewable sources such as solar and wind by 2030. At the same time, the state will need to double energy efficiency in homes, offices and factories.

A third goal, cutting gasoline use in half, was removed from the bill amid stiff opposition from oil companies and a failure to win enough support among Democrats. The debate dominated the final days of the legislative session last month, resulting in a defeat for Brown and the bill's author, state Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles).

Nevertheless, De León hailed the legislation as a landmark in California's environmental efforts.

“We are doing away with the tired old stereotypes of environmentalism as a pastime of the wealthy and the elite,” De León said. “Soon, whether you live in Boyle Heights or Beverly Hills, Modesto or Marin, Sausalito or Santa Ana, Sacramento or Logan Heights, San Diego, you will have the same access to clean electricity and clean air.”

Besides the renewable energy and efficiency goals, the new law will make other changes to boost clean power.

It begins laying the groundwork for a regional electricity grid, which could make renewable energy more available throughout the West. And it creates incentives for utilities to install additional charging stations for electric vehicles, an effort to make drivers more comfortable shifting away from gasoline.

“Charging stations will be as ubiquitous as gas stations are,” De León said. “Now one industry can't monopolize the transportation fuel supply.”

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