We start off with some very good news on today's BradCast, for a change. (The less good news comes later...but it's nowhere near as bad as the good news is good.) On Wednesday, the California state legislature adopted a measure that will require the state to use only 100% "carbon-free" electricity by 2045. The landmark climate change bill, which state lawmakers have been debating for two years, now awaits the signature of Gov. Jerry Brown. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]
We're joined by Vox.com's environment and energy journalist DAVID ROBERTS to discuss what that actually means, if the goal is feasible, and what could prevent Brown from signing the landmark measure. (For a complete and, yes, wonky explanation of the debate over a separate if related measure that could hold up Brown's signature on this one, see Roberts' recent article here.)
Roberts breaks down what the legislation's change from 100% "renewable" to 100% "carbon-free" electricity means and why the entire effort is such a huge frickin' deal that deserves more coverage than its likely to get right now. Last year, the state of Hawaii lead the way by adopting a similar measure, but with California as the world's 5th largest economy, this move, as the Los Angeles Times recently reported, would truly turn the Golden State into a world leader on climate change action.
"If you put together the size of the economy, the nearness of the targets, and the ambition, I think this is as big as anyone has gone. I think this is as big as it gets," Roberts tells me. "I don't think there's another economy in the world that is comparably large and carbon-intensive, that has anything close to comparably ambitious goals."
The measure also increases the state's current goal of moving to 50% renewable energy by 2030, up to 60% by the same year. That, as Roberts explains, because California has almost reached its previous goal already, years earlier than planned! "They'll probably beat these targets, too," he says. "One of the reasons this is happening is most utilities in California are closing in on their 2030 targets already, and its 2018."
As usual, Roberts makes all of this otherwise-wonky stuff accessible to mere mortals --- and actually enjoyable. Well, at least I enjoyed it. Hope you will too!
Then, back to some less good news of the day. On Thursday, President Trump informed Congress that he wants to cancel the scheduled pay raise for federal workers that is due them in January, charging "Federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases". That, after giving a $1.5 trillion tax cut to corporations and the wealthy last December and signing a $717 billion defense appropriation bill just weeks ago. Both have resulted in what even the White House now admits will be unprecedented year-after-year trillion dollar deficits. Trump and Republicans now hope to force the "forgotten men and women" of the working class, that he pretended to care about during the 2016 election, to pay the price for it, even though non-military federal workers have already seen pay and benefits cuts of more than $200 billion since 2011 and now earn 5% less than they did at the start of the decade.
In West Virginia, coal baron and convicted felon Don Blankenship will not be allowed to run for the U.S. Senate this year on the Constitution Party's ballot line. The state's Supreme Court (or what's sufficing for it at the moment, with two of its five members recently resigned and the three others facing impeachment by the GOP state legislature --- see my conversation with Slate's Mark Joseph Stern about that earlier this week), agreed with their Sec. of State that Blankenship's candidacy would run afoul of the state's "sore loser" statute after he placed third last May in the Republican primary contest for that party's Senate nomination. The ruling is good news for the state's Attorney General and GOP Senate nominee Patrick Morrisey, as Blankenship might have siphoned off some of his support. Morrisey hopes to unseat the conservative incumbent Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin, this November.
Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with more on today's encouraging news out of California, some bad news for those who live in areas with high air pollution, and the disturbing news that Puerto Rico's Hurricane Maria is now officially the deadliest U.S. natural disaster in more than 100 years --- though Donald Trump still thinks he did a heckuva job in his response to it...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)