California is blessed with renewable energy resources that it has barely begun to harvest, an enlightened electorate that understands the importance of doing so and a venture-capital community eager to make green investments. In fact, the state has everything it needs to lead the world in clean energy development, except for one thing: a functional government.
The Legislature isn't just bad at passing budgets; it's bad at moving major legislation even when it's favored by a strong majority of lawmakers and the public. That's why the state still doesn't have a renewable energy standard even though a sensible bill to establish one has been taken up annually since 2007. The bill was actually passed by both houses in 2009 but was vetoed by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and last year it languished as lawmakers bickering about less important issues allowed time to expire on the 2010 session.
Now it's back, and just as we have done every year for the last four years, we're once again hoping the political establishment can overcome its legacy of failure and give California an early lead in the struggle to wean the nation off of fossil fuels, clean the state's air, boost its fledgling green industries and set an example on responsible mitigation strategies for climate change. SBX1 2 from Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) is scheduled for a vote in the state Senate on Thursday. It would mandate that utilities derive 33% of their power from renewable sources, such as the sun, wind or underground heat, by 2020.