Is Schwarzenegger throwing the baby out with the bathwater?
Posted December 23, 2008
Has Governor Schwarzenegger forgotten that California's environmental quality is the backbone of our economy? One of the things that make it so exciting to work in California is that, by and large, people here get it and they want to protect it. They know that clean water, clean air, beaches and landscapes are the backdrop for a state economy that thrives on efficiency and innovation. They understand that clean, renewable energy fights global warming and can help get us out of the economic doldrums.
And for the last five years Governor Schwarzenegger made this connection too. He's been one of the most visible champions on the world stage for the proposition that a healthy environment and strong economy go hand in hand. Remember this Newsweek cover, when he was holding the globe?
So why has he changed since last year when he summed up his global leadership platform at a speech he gave at Georgetown University, " ... we can protect the environment and protect the economy, and that's what I've been saying for years...and we have proven it in California." Again, earlier this year, "Economic growth and environmental action are not mutually exclusive."
He's said this again and again. He's signed landmark bills to combat global warming - bills to cap greenhouse gas emissions and most recently led California as the first state in the nation to inject climate protection into the transportation and land use equation. So, why now that the going's getting tough in the economy is Schwarzenegger pushing for less environmental protection?
It doesn't make sense and it will set us down a road that will make it harder for us to build a future of green infrastructure. His budget proposal will lead to more of the same - more freeway lanes and more air pollution rather than more transit and less pollution. I've worked with the Governor and his Air Board and Energy Commission to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and now I'm scratching my head as to why he's making this hard right turn now. NRDC and our allies here in California sent a letter to the governor recently letting him know that there are better ways to develop jobs and stimulate the economy.
California's dedication to our workforce and investment in developing clean energy technology has built our economy into the seventh largest economy in the world. As we work to keep that edge, let us not forget what made us strong in the first place and let us not throw the baby out with the bathwater. I think we all get it. These are tough times, but it's times like this that we need to work toward what's best for California.