Energy Looms Large in Brown's Historic Inauguration Speech

California First Lady Anne Gust looks on as Jerry Brown takes his fourth Oath of Office | Photo: Office of the Governor

Jerry Brown was sworn in Monday for a fourth term as California's Governor, and he offered some impressive goals in his speech that would push California even further toward a renewable future.

The first person in California's history to be inaugurated for a fourth term as governor, Brown mentioned a wide range of accomplishments in his speech Monday, from the passage of the drought-spurred Proposition 1 to overcrowded prisons to the very recent granting of drivers' licenses to undocumented residents.

But the few specific goals Brown mentioned in his speech all focused on renewable energy and energy conservation. Those goals would have the state derive half its energy from renewables by 2030, as well as cutting California cars' and trucks' gasoline consumption by half and making existing buildings twice as energy efficient.


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In his speech, Brown specifically called for more decentralized rooftop solar, along with battery storage, micro-grids, and electric cars. Though the governor has lauded larger solar power plants in the past, they went oddly unmentioned in Monday's inaugural remarks, in which Brown said:

Interestingly, Brown quoted biologist E.O. Wilson at some length on the importance of preserving natural habitat, saying:

Wilson's clarion call to protect biodiversity wan't reflected in the rest of Brown's speech, in which the only other mention of wild habitats was an odd call to use those wild habitats, among other landscapes, to store carbon:

As we've reported here on occasion, some of California's wild habitats do best at storing carbon when they're left undisturbed. Whether Brown had preserving thoase landscapes in mind, or something else, isn't clear.

At any rate, the four-time governor's emphasis on small-scale rooftop solar has representatives of the solar trade beaming. "California's solar industry stands ready to build Governor Brown's vision of a better, stronger, cleaner California," said Bernadette Del Chiaro, Executive Director of the California Solar Energy Industries Association, in a press release responding to Brown's remarks. "Through expanded solar power, California can give the power of the near limitless sun to future generations while building a stronger economy today."

Trivia time: With his inauguration today, Governor Brown becomes the first person in California history to be sworn into the state's highest office four times. The previous record holder, whom Brown tied in 2011 at his third inaugural, was Earl Warren, who served two and a half terms as California governor between 1943 and 1953. Warren left Sacramento in the middle of his third term when he was named Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

For ongoing environmental coverage in March 2017 and afterward, please visit our show Earth Focus, or browse Redefine for historic material.
KCET's award-winning environment news project Redefine ran from July 2012 through February 2017.

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