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California doubles down on fighting climate change

The California Senate just passed a hugely ambitious plan to shift to renewable energy, electric cars, and to combat global warming. The goals are laudable, however there are real questions whether they can be reached without massive, painful disruption to regular Californians. Seriously. Mandating a 50% cut in petroleum use within 15 years means way more electric and alt-energy vehicles, including big rigs. Electric cars require electricity, which means more power plants will need to be built. California is also mandating 50% in-state renewable energy by 2030, which is, um, highly optimistic, as grids now have trouble handling large amounts of always fluctuating renewable energy. Plus, the price of electricity may climb sharply.

California has a long way to go and a short time to get there. This plan is so ambitious they it will either be a hero for achieving or a clown for failing.

“I’m quite dubious about our ability to accomplish these goals we’re getting so many kudos for setting,” said James Sweeney, director of Stanford University’s Precourt Energy Efficiency Center.

“It’s going to be up to future governors and future lawmakers to make these goals work,” Sweeney said. “Unless we come up with a plan that’s not terribly disruptive to average Californians’ lives, they’re never going to follow through.”

If the legislation becomes law, it will be up to the California Air Resources Control Board to implement two of the measures’ toughest goals: cutting petroleum use by cars and trucks in half over the next 15 years and slashing greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels over the next 35 years.

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