Energy

’60 Minutes’ Describes Jerry Brown As A ‘Climate Missionary’ Who Preaches ‘The Gospel of Renewable Energy’

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor
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California Governor Jerry Brown is a “climate missionary, traveling the world, preaching the gospel of renewable energy,” according to the latest episode of CBS’s “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday night.

The show’s description plays off Brown’s brief stint as a Jesuit seminarian in the late 1950s, but there’s a ring of truth to it. Brown, a Democrat, has made fighting global warming a central part of his governorship.

Brown has positioned himself as the foil to President Donald Trump, especially on the issue of global warming. The Trump administration has scaled back climate regulations and programs.

“I don’t think President Trump has a fear of the Lord, the fear of the wrath of God, which leads one to more humility,” Brown said on “60 Minutes.” “And this is such a reckless disregard for the truth and for the existential consequences that can be unleashed.”

Brown’s been especially active this year, travelling to the Vatican, China and a United Nations summit in Bonn, Germany, “to tell the world President Trump doesn’t speak for all Americans,” according to “60 Minutes.”

Brown joined former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an Independent, at Bonn to pledge to honor the Paris climate accord, that former President Barack Obama’s administration joined in 2016. States and cities across the country pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions to protest Trump’s plan to withdraw from the accord.

Brown wants California to get 50 percent of its electricity from green energy sources by 2030. State lawmakers have also introduced legislation to ban gasoline-powered cars after 2040.

“As governor of California we have a cap-and-trade system which is a very efficient way to reducing greenhouse gases,” Brown said on the news show. “We have zero-emission vehicle mandate. We have efficiency standards for our buildings, for our appliances.”

“So California is showing that dealing with climate is good for the economy, not bad,” Brown said.

However, Brown’s optimism glosses over some glaring problems with California’s economy, including high energy and housing costs.

California saw its reliance on coal power drop in recent years — largely due to a state law preventing utilities from renewing coal contracts — however, the state got nearly 40 percent of its electricity from natural gas in 2016.

California mandates a certain percentage of its electricity come from green energy sources. The state’s cap-and-trade program and myriad of subsidies have forced more green energy onto the grid.

The state gets 25 percent of its electricity from green energy, mostly from wind and solar. Nuclear and hydro power generated about 20 percent of California’s electricity needs last year.

Californians also pay some of the highest electricity prices in the country. The average California electricity rate was nearly 18 cents a kilowatt-hour in September, compared to the national average of about 11 cents.

California also has the highest average gasoline price among the lower 48 states at $3.10 a gallon, despite having ample refining capacity. Taxes and regulations at the state and federal level add to the cost of filling your tank.

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