Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Democrats who control the Legislature have plenty to disagree about. So it's a shame they can't even get together on an important issue on which they say they agree.
California has long been a leader in pushing the electricity industry to use renewable sources of energy to power the state's grid. Current law calls for the utilities to use renewables for 20 percent of their electricity production by 2010.
The industry is falling short of that benchmark, but Schwarzenegger and the Legislature's Democratic leaders say they want to go even further. In exchange for delaying the 20 percent standard until 2013, they would require that 33 percent of the state's electricity come from renewable sources by 2020.
The problem is, they can't agree on how to get there. The governor last week vetoed legislation that would have put the new standard into law. Instead, he has ordered the Air Resources Board to implement the idea with regulations as part of the board's plan to fight global warming.
That's a step in the right direction, but it's not sufficient. Anything this air board does can be undone by a future board, whose appointees will be controlled by the next governor. Already, one Republican candidate, businesswoman Meg Whitman, has said she would suspend implementation of the global warming law because she thinks it is hurting the economy.
But this kind of uncertainty will hurt the economy more than just about anything. Companies that are ready and willing to invest in green energy solar power, windmills, geothermal will hesitate if they think the state is not serious about its commitment. Just when California should be reaping the benefits of its environmental ethos, we will be sitting on the sidelines instead.
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