Top California legislator vows court fight if EPA revokes Clean Air waiver
California’s top two legislative leaders, Senate Pro Tem Kevin de León and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, were both in the desert last week, visiting with area Democrats as well as business and education leaders.
De León told the Desert Sun at a reception in Palm Desert on Thursday night that he’s still working on the details of his new plan to make California’s electricity sources 100 percent climate friendly by 2045, but credited the state’s investor-owned utilities for the work they’ve done thus far. Because of previous legislation by de León, those companies are mandated to hit 50 percent by 2030.
“I believe that all three utilities will easily get to 50 percent without breaking a sweat,” he said. “I’m wondering if I made a mistake originally by settling on 50 percent as opposed to 100 percent and shooting for the moon.”
Yet he’s mindful of the “fixed assets” that those companies — PG&E, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric — currently own, including climate-polluting fossil fuel plants. He wants to make sure the transition to clean energy isn’t too costly. “You don’t want to raise utility rates for consumers,” he said.
De León also vowed to fight the Environmental Protection Agency’s new head, Scott Pruitt, if he tries to undermine California’s long-standing authority to set stricter vehicle fuel-efficiency standards than the rest of the country.
“We will see him in a court of law,” de León said.
In a separate interview Friday, Rendon said the prospects of de León's bill in the Assemblywere hard to tell because Democrats had yet to conduct a count. Previous pieces of climate legislation had been a "tough lift," including last year's mandate that the state reduce greenhouse gas reductions by 40 percent below the 1990 level by 2030. Consumers have been slow to buy electric vehicles, but, thanks to certain state incentives, Rendon said he expects the market to improve over the next decade.
Rendon also commented on criticism by Republican leaders in the Assembly, including Chad Mayes, who complained that Democrats' plan to raise gas taxes and vehicle fees would hurt the poor most of all. Instead, Republicans have called for re-directing Proposition 45 dollars towards their intended purpose — transportation.
Rendon said the GOP's own proposal would cut $6 billion in social services, hitting "working families and poor people the hardest." However, he agreed that the issue going forward was the creation of a constant and exclusive source of highway and road repair funding.
"If the GOP can find $6 billion worth of cuts from...the DMV bureaucracy, then that's pretty talented," he said.
Rendon spoke on the College of the Desert campus following a tour and conversation with officials about boosting early childhood education funding, hosted by Assembly member Eduardo Garcia, a Democrat from Coachella.