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Jerry Brown at a 2010 rally (Source: Creative Commons)

Jerry Brown at a 2010 rally (Source: Creative Commons)

As he begins his fourth gubernatorial term, Jerry Brown is setting ambitious goals for California’s environmental future.

“California feeds on change and great undertakings, but the path of wisdom counsels us to ground ourselves and nurture carefully all that we have started,” Brown said at his swearing-in. “We must build on rock, not sand, so that when the storms come, our house stands.”

The Golden State’s progressive environmental policies make it one of the first in the nation in terms of solar power, ocean management and climate change adaptation. Brown wants to take this even further by increasing the state’s target goal for renewable energy generation.

Currently, California’s energy portfolio standard calls for 33 percent of the state’s electricity to be generated by renewable sources by 2020. As of 2014, the state energy commission reports that, excluding large dams, that capacity is almost 25 percent. Gov. Brown wants to double that capacity by 2030.

“We must demonstrate that reducing carbon is compatible with an abundant economy and human well-being,” said Brown in his inauguration speech. “So far, we have been able to do that.”

So now the stated goal is to derive 50 percent of California’s electricity from clean energy sources.

Brown said this new goal is essential to fighting the worst effects of climate change. It comes at a time when California is already experiencing the preliminary stages of those effects. California just experienced its hottest year on record (in the hottest year on record) and is now in its fourth year of drought.

“Taking significant amounts of carbon out of our economy without harming its vibrancy is exactly the sort of challenge at which California excels,” said Brown. “This is exciting, it is bold and it is absolutely necessary if we are to have any chance of stopping potentially catastrophic changes to our climate system.”

Brown’s energy goals for his state include “expanded rooftop solar, micro-grids, an energy imbalance market, [and] battery storage,” as well as a $68 billion high-speed rail system and major water infrastructure projects.

Former Governor Gray Davis attended Brown’s inauguration and gave faint but fair praise to the man’s ambitions. “Even if the rhetoric is slightly ahead of reality,” he told the AP, “he’s always believed that our reach should exceed our grasp.”

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