California governor Jerry Brown visited Philadelphia for the Democratic Convention where he once again bragged to the world about his supposed leadership on fighting climate change. But in reality Governor Brown has stopped short of taking meaningful actions to phase out greenhouse gas emissions.
He has consistently refused to ban fracking in the Golden State — missing the benchmark set by Vermont, New York, and Maryland — and has held backroom meetings in recent weeks with recalcitrant oil industry executives to salvage his ill-conceived cap-and-trade program. Rather than meeting behind closed doors to trade away environmental protections in the name of compromise, there is a lot Brown could do to make real strides in fighting climate change.
For starters, he can order the permanent closure of the infamous Aliso Canyon gas storage facility. SoCalGas, owned by Sempra, has been rushing to reopen the aging storage field after it was temporarily shut down following last year’s blow out, releasing a colossal amount of methane—making it the worst gas disaster in U.S. history. As regulators conducted mandated safety checks, they found that the facility is in worse shape than imagined. Preventing another gas disaster would do more to protect the families in nearby Porter Ranch—and the climate—than any pay-to-pollute scheme Brown is frantically trying to rescue.
He could also ban fracking and other dangerous drilling, shut down urban oil fields in the heart of Los Angeles and surrounding communities and commit the state to a swift and just transition to 100 percent renewable energy. California could truly be a leader in protecting the climate and creating an economy based on meeting human needs.
We welcome elected officials like Jerry Brown in our Clean Energy Revolution that brought 10,000 people into the streets in Philadelphia last Sunday. But talk is cheap. If Brown is truly concerned about fighting climate change it is time for bold action. Time is running out, not just for the governor, but also for the people of California and the planet.