The late California historian Kevin Starr once wrote, “California had long since become one of the prisms through which the American people, for better and for worse, could glimpse their future.” These words have never felt truer.
Over the course of President Obama’s administration, California has shown that ambitious climate and energy policy does not inhibit growth. It’s a trend we’ll continue in the years ahead, with or without the Trump administration. There’s too much at stake.
California is a multi-faceted economy, built on a diversity of people, politics, and industries, defined by wealth and poverty, and millions of hardworking Americans – just like the rest of the country. We are facing many of the issues the rest of the country is, or will be, facing. Given new federal leadership, state-level efforts like those underway in California are more important than ever.
A coast-to-coast clean energy economy
Business and economic growth relies, in part, on certainty and a long-term view. Silicon Valley titans like Google, Apple and Facebook are all well on their way to meeting internal commitments to 100 percent renewable energy. And California was recently ranked among the top five states, along with Iowa, Illinois, New Jersey and Texas for corporations that seek to buy or build renewable energy generation – attracting job-creating enterprises.
Illinois is also noteworthy for the bipartisan Future Energy Jobs Bill, passed into law in December. As my colleague Dick Munson notes, Illinois will see an additional $12 billion to $15 billion in new private investment as a result of the new clean energy priorities in the bill.
Importantly, clean energy is sparking businesses of all sizes. A new report [PDF] highlights how California’s long-standing energy efficiency requirements have helped create 300,000 jobs in energy efficiency – most coming from small firms. This can happen nationwide.
Clean power to the people
It’s apparent that progress is catching on, as more states make clean energy growth critical to economic and social progress, including the success of wind power in Texas, the legislative victory in Illinois noted above, and New York’s overhaul of their energy sector.
Forward-thinking policies, like California’s 2030 climate targets and 50 percent renewable portfolio standard, are shaping markets, creating jobs, and stimulating economic growth. Citizens across the country are demanding strong policy as clean energy technologies from LEDs, to smart thermostats, to rooftop solar continue to fall in costs.
In the years ahead California will focus on effectively integrating cheap renewables, capitalizing on the potential of distributed energy resources, and making sure those advancements are accessible to all Californians. The progress we protect and defend here echoes battles being waged from the Pacific to the Atlantic and everywhere in between.