California’s economic recovery urgently depends on restoring lost clean energy jobs and actively pursuing additional clean energy investment.
By Eduardo Garcia, Special to CalMatters
Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, a Democrat from Coachella, represents the 56th Assembly District, Assemblymember.EduardoGarcia@assembly.ca.gov.
All Californians deserve access to an affordable, clean and safe energy system. Our current health and economic crises, along with rolling blackouts and wildfires, highlight how vital power is to our daily lives to meet our heat, cooling, light, communication and now even our distance learning needs.
Among many other critical impacts, the COVID-19 pandemic is causing severe harm to California’s clean energy sector, costing nearly 100,000 clean energy jobs – more than three times as many as any other state in the nation – and setting back our trailblazing efforts to make our energy system safer, more reliable and better for our environment.
Unless California takes immediate action, we may lose tens of thousands of additional jobs. Over a billion dollars of private and public investment in California is at risk, with progress on clean transportation, efficiency, renewables, smart grid, storage and other clean energy technologies at stake.
We face deep, enduring setbacks to our climate and clean energy goals as well as our strides to improve the health and overall welfare of our most disadvantaged areas that can be accomplished by creating good jobs and cleaning the air.
California’s economic recovery urgently depends on restoring lost clean energy jobs and actively pursuing additional clean energy investment, particularly in our economic and environmentally vulnerable communities that we know have been hit the hardest by COVID-19.
Imperial County, in my district, recently headlined as our state’s pandemic epicenter. It has historically suffered health-threatening environmental conditions, high poverty and staggering unemployment rates. Imperial County is a prime example of a community with abundant clean energy potential that is incredibly in need of state investment.
In his ambitious $2 trillion climate change plan, presidential candidate Joe Biden has a shared focus of tackling climate change and reviving the economy when he stated that, “we also know that transforming the American electrical sector to produce power without producing carbon pollution and electrifying an increased share of our economy will be the greatest spurring of job creation and economic competitiveness in the 21st century.”
California is a state of innovative problem solvers with demonstrated leadership on climate equity and clean energy policies. It is imperative that we keep these clean energy opportunities top of mind as we respond to this economic crisis in a way that reflects our values and maximizes optimal community co-benefits.
The Alliance for a Clean Economy, an informal coalition of California’s clean energy and environmental interests, submitted a request to our state’s leadership asking to help restore the California economy. We should reaffirm our commitment to provide immediate relief for California’s economy while working simultaneously to uplift our most underserved populations and meet our affordable, more reliable, clean energy goals.
The good news is our Golden State has already proven its ability to do so. Clean energy played a critical role in California’s recovery from the last recession; in 2008-09, when many federal and state economic stimulus tools were designed to unlock such investment.
We learned that clean energy investments lead to lower energy costs. New investments will do the same, which will help increase California’s economic competitiveness and retain businesses here in the state. Building on a key element of California’s successful recovery from the Great Recession, we recommend formation of a Clean Energy Action Team to expedite new clean energy deployment in an equitable manner.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins, and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon have been decisive and comforting leaders during these unprecedented times. I urge the governor’s Business and Jobs Recovery Task Force and my colleagues in the Legislature to maintain a strong focus on our clean energy industry and these opportunities to uplift California’s most underserved communities on our road to economic recovery.
Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia has also written about expanding access to parks by underserved communities.