California is moving to require that the state gets 100 percent of its electricity from carbon-free sources—such as wind, solar, and nuclear power—by 2045. The bill passed the state assembly Tuesday. From there, it needs to be passed by the state senate, then signed by Governor Jerry Brown.
The vote comes on the heels of the state's fourth climate assessment, a thorough document that reviews the science about how climate change is expected to affect the Golden State. According to the report, by the mid-21st century, the acreage of Northern California forest burned in wildfires every year could increase by 48 percent, and thousands more Californians may die of heat waves annually.
California has a history of studying the science of climate change, then voting on major climate laws. Then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger pushed to publish the very first California Climate Assessment before the state's first commitment to limiting greenhouse gas emissions went to vote. "Governor Schwarzenegger changed the timing of it pretty dramatically," says California Energy Commission Chair Bob Weisenmiller, who led the latest climate assessment. "He thought, as California was considering Assembly Bill 32, that it was important for people to understand why." AB 32, or the California Global Warming Solutions Act, was signed into law in September of 2006.
Despite supporting numerous other energy bills, Brown has not publicly stated his thoughts on the carbon-free by 2045 bill, known as SB (for Senate Bill) 100, the Los Angeles Times reports. But Schwarzenegger has: "We know we can pass groundbreaking legislation that will grow our economy, inspire innovation, and protect the air our children breathe and the water they drink. I did it, and I'm a Republican," he said in a statement. "The California Legislature must pass SB 100 and usher in a new fundamental era of California innovation and share our famous sense of ambition with the rest of the country and the world."