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The California State Assembly: Where Progressive Legislation Goes to Die

SB 562, the California single-payer healthcare bill, wasn’t the only piece of progressive legislation killed this session.

SB 562, the California single-payer healthcare bill, wasn’t the only piece of progressive legislation killed in the Democrat-controlled State Assembly this year.

SB 100, proposed by President pro tempore of the California Senate Kevin de León, would have required the state to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2045. The bill passed the Senate with broad support, and was overwhelmingly popular with the general public, supported by 76% of Californians and among those 53% of Republicans supported the bill.

Once SB 100 reached the State Assembly, though, it was buried by Majority Leader Chris Holden, who would not allow the bill out of committee for a vote. Like with SB 562, this effectively killed the bill, though with California’s two-year legislative sessions it could be brought up again in 2018.

Holden received $17,825.00 from the Oil and Gas industry in his last election cycle, but #OilyDems and the usual business and fossil fuel interests are not the only challenge facing environmental progress in California. In a truly awful turn of events, the trade unions representing electrical workers and utility workers lobbied strongly against the SB 100 at the last minute.

According to the LA Times: “The controversy involves broader questions about the future of California’s electricity grid. The Public Utilities Commission has launched a pilot program that could lead to increased reliance on technologies such as energy storage and rooftop solar.The unions fear those initiatives will result in fewer jobs for their members, as well as a less-reliable, less-regulated electricity grid.”

The climate is collapsing around us, the Southeastern states are hit and Caribbean islands are decimated by hurricanes, and much of California is currently on fire. We have not a moment to spare — 2045 was already a comically modest goal for 100% renewable energy. And yet we have another instance of a Democrat in the State Assembly, funded by the fossil fuel industry and bolstered by a turncoat trade union, cowardly burying popular legislation in committee.

This at a time when, according to Wired: “France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Norway have all said they plan to ban the sale of gas and diesel cars in the coming decades. More importantly, China — the world’s largest car market — and India, a rising star, plan to join them.” And just in the last two weeks General Motors announced its intention to launch 20 all-electric cars by 2023, and stop producing internal-combustion vehicles entirely in the coming decades.

This is the twisted world we live in, where corporations are outpacing trade unions and the Democratic Party on renewable energy goals. And so be it — we must stop burning fossil fuels as quickly as possible, so I say let the market do its work. At least that way there will be a future in which to fight over energy affordability, access, and all the other struggles we will still be fighting.