Last week, California made another down payment on attempting to adapt to climate change. Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a greater than half a billion dollar drought-relief package to mitigate the worst water shortage in recent memory. "This legislation marks a crucial step,” said Governor Brown, “But Californians must continue to take every action possible to conserve water.” In these difficult times, this is money which we now cannot use to create jobs, clean up and protect our environment.
the mega-million dollar assistance is a necessary immediate response to the
parched environment, but this action must be accompanied by a broader, larger
discussion about climate change which is creating these extreme weather
scenarios and water shortages. It is
clear that there is a strong corollary between the way we are treating the
environment and the way Planet Earth is treating us back.
broader conversation should include actions like the recent decision by the Los
Angeles City Council to prohibit fracking in the city. This is a good start and one that should be adopted
in Sacramento for the entire state of California. Fracking uses a tremendous quantity of water;
Sacramento needs to ban this dirty and wasteful extraction in the entire state
as a necessary component of any anti-drought effort.
too long paid puppets for Big Polluters have used the tired canard that
policies favoring a clean, healthy environment are bad for business and cost
jobs. As LA County Supervisor Gloria
Molina wrote in a recent Op-Ed regarding a small handful of LA-area state
senators who denied passage of a statewide ban on single use plastic bags (“Local
plastic bag bans are working to keep Southern California clean”, LA Daily News,
Jan. 23rd, 2014) “Since the dawn of the environmental movement,
opponents have tried to stop progress by exaggerating economic impacts. With SB
405, opponents claimed over 350 jobs would be lost — when the actual number
turned out to be around 15.” Supervisor Molina then went on to emphasize the economic
benefits of going green, “Manufacturing and marketing of reusable bags holds
immense promise for our state’s economy. This sustainable industry already
employs hundreds of Californians — including many plastic makers who are
shifting their product lines to make reusable bags.” That’s right, hundreds of new jobs due to a
measure that protects the environment.
exposed, the legislators flip flopped and joined the bill, but only after revisions
that transformed the former SB 405 into a drastically neutered SB 270 so that,
as environmentalist and ocean advocate Matthew Spiegl noted, “It’s not a
plastic bag reduction bill – it’s a plastic bag production bill.” (“PLASTIC: The Official Bag of California?”
Matthew Spiegl, Huffington Post, Jan. 21, 2014). After decrying “a legislative culture in
Sacramento that has been unable to pass meaningful environmental measures”, Mr.
Spiegl notes that positive movement forward on environmental issues is due to
grass roots groups and individuals “-- not the lobby driven, special interest
the stars are aligning for a new paradigm that going green equals making green. I have seen this clearly in my own work as
President of the Temple City Chamber of Commerce.
studies show that the areas of new job growth and economic development are in
the clean energy technology sector - wind, solar, fuel cell, smart grid,
biofuel, and battery companies. For the
millions of unemployed Americans, these green jobs are a beacon of hope in a stagnant
landscape. For example, according to The
Solar Foundation, 1 out of every 142 new jobs in the US in 2013 was in solar
energy. This week the Los Angeles Times
reported that Tesla, the Palo Alto electric car maker, is seeking a site to
build a $4 - $5 billion battery factory that will employ 6,500 workers (“State
lacks juice to win battery factory”, L.A. Times, March 7, 2014).
has been a concerted effort by everyday folks like you and me to combat both
the drought and the plague of plastic bags by making simple changes like replacing
water thirsty lawns for drought tolerant landscaping or bringing reusable tote
bags to shopping. These changes actually
make our lives easier, as well as saving us money and protecting our planet. In order to boost our efforts, we need leaders
in Sacramento who understand that saving the planet is now the best way to save
money and create jobs. By creating a government
of the people, by the voters and for the planet instead of a government of Big
Oil, by Big Plastic and for Big Polluters we will actually be enabling a
government that creates opportunities for all of us. Opportunities for good jobs, air which does
not make our kids sick, and clean neighborhoods.
the people have learned that protecting the environment, saving energy, and developing
renewable energy creates jobs and powers the California economy. Let’s send a message to Sacramento by
returning power to the people and elect representatives who understand that
protecting the environment actually protects us.