In a State of the State address that took place amid war and a Republican push for more oil drilling, Gov. Gavin Newsom said efforts to reduce climate pollution cannot be dropped. We cannot “repeat the mistakes of the past by embracing polluters,” he said the evening of March 8.
Accelerating clean technology frees us from the “the grasp of petro-dictators” and creates a huge economic opportunity for this generation, he stressed, in an apparent reference to Vladimir Putin. Drilling even more oil “only leads to even more extreme weather, more extreme drought, more wildfire.” He named Paradise, Greenville and Grizzly Flats, all towns that have burned to the ground.
Newsom pointed to early state efforts that were pivotal to the development of electric cars. He said he had built on those efforts when he issued an executive order last year requiring all new cars sold be zero emission by 2035 and big truck sales be all ZEVs by 2045.
California is working to become an electric vehicle sales and manufacturing leader. He said that increased leadership is within reach including by successfully securing “a critical component of the supply chain for batteries, by tapping one of the world’s largest lithium reserves” from the brine of geothermal plants in the Imperial Valley next to the Salton Sea.
The state has invested $38 billion in clean technologies, with plans to “extract new ideas” and talent, not oil, so that our economy runs “on a carbon-free engine,” he added.
The next day, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced it was reestablishing California’s authority to set limits on tailpipe emissions that are tighter than those set by the federal government. The Trump administration blocked that authority.
“The restoration of our state’s Clean Air Act waiver is a major victory for the environment, our economy, and the health of families across the country that comes at a pivotal moment underscoring the need to end our reliance on fossil fuels,” Newsom said.
Fifteen other states and the District of Columbia follow California’s lead on tighter emission limits of vehicles.
“Reinstating states’ authority to set their own vehicle emission standards will ensure that over 120 million people nationwide can realize the benefits of reduced transportation pollution,” said Congressperson Doris Matsui (D-CA).
The transportation sector is the largest source of climate pollution nationwide and contributes about 50% of California’s greenhouse gas emissions.