Guest Blogger Ken Alex: State of the State

Ken Alex is a Senior Advisor to Governor Jerry Brown and the Director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research.  The views expressed in this blog post are his own.

Thanks to Legal Planet, the UCLA Law Emmett Center and Environmental Law Center, and Berkeley Law Center on Law, Energy, and the Environment for letting me do the series of blogs.  Hopefully, I touched on some of the important issues and trends.  I want to note that there is a lot more to talk about, both positive and negative.

For example, high speed rail presents great opportunities if we get it right – connectivity in the Central Valley, transit oriented development giving us the change to preserve prime farm land and open space, while accommodating anticipated population growth, and a way to avoid airport expansions.  Community Choice Aggregation may provide a path for a faster conversion to renewable and local power.  And innovative financing may have us on the threshold of true cost competition for renewables across multiple power and transportation markets.

But we also face significant hurdles posed by an entrenched carbon-based economy and the intransigence of Congress and dug-in supporters of the old order.  The magnitude of the change needed remains enormous.

We are, I think, at a moment of some optimism, however.  Renewables are accelerating, electric vehicles are finally showing promise, storage is about to have its day, and California’s economy is improving.  We have a window to make real progress, and, if we do, California can set the course.

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Reader Comments

2 Replies to “Guest Blogger Ken Alex: State of the State”

  1. Thank you for your knowledgeable and comprehensive descriptions of many of the environmental opportunities and challenges Californians face. The only area where I think your analysis fell a little flat concerns High-Speed Rail. Of course getting it right is key, but there is a lot of evidence that the High-Speed Rail Authority is not doing that and has not been doing it for some time. Notable examples of how the project has gone sideways include: the failure to manage the risk of ever-increasing costs, the inflated ridership projections, the early elimination of potentially viable and less destructive and costly alternatives (such as along the I-5 corridor in the Central Valley), and the EIRs’ minimization of real impacts (such as severance to ag land, loss of habitat connectivity and growth inducement). What is the Brown administration’s strategy for dealing with these issues?

  2. Dear Guest Blogger,
    With all due respect for Governor Brown and yourself, your eloquent appeal for public support is not convincing. You rehash old ideas such as reducing vehicle miles traveled, high-speed rail, cap n’ trade, carbon credits, mass transit, renewables, etc., etc., etc., etc…….., all of which do not mitigate climate change. These are timeworn gimmicks that are ineffective and cannot offer any performance guarantees. No guarantees whatsoever, a massive waste of resources, no measurable reduction in global temperature.

    Most Americans no longer look to California for environmental leadership, in fact the opposite is true. Most of us overcame our fears about global warming a long time ago and so should you and Governor Brown. Americans will not be reducing our vehicle miles traveled, nor buying carbon credits. Instead we shall increase our use of fossil fuels, create jobs and hope for the future.

    California needs to get on-board with the rest of America and drill-baby-drill. California has plenty of oil that could solve its financial crisis and pay the pensions for its public employees. Onshore and offshore, California has enormous reservoirs of untapped oil and gas that needs to be drilled, fracked, and flowing to the market.

    Folks in California cannot afford carbon credits, high speed rail, etc., etc, etc…… The citizens of this state will continue to increase their reliance on fossil fuels, and pay more for it, despite their guilt and hypocrisy. Governor Brown could be a great leader if he had the courage to reject hysteria and embrace fossil fuel. Damn the carbon dioxide, full speed ahead, drill-baby-drill. Amen

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