Senate Bill 350

Where do we go from here?

It was supposed to be three big 50s: 50 percent doubling of energy efficiency in buildings, 50 percent of our electricity power mix coming from renewable energy sources and a whopping 50 percent reduction in petroleum use in transportation—all by the year 2030. That was the ambition of Senate Bill (SB) 350, authored by Senators Kevin de León and the Bay Area’s Marc Leno.

Near the end of the legislative session, under heavy lobbying and statewide negative ad campaigning from the fossil fuel industry, the 50 percent petroleum reduction component was removed.

It might be argued that two out of three ain’t bad. The process of achieving the two remaining provisions will undoubtedly spur innovation and investment in a sustainable California economy, improve public health and reduce greenhouse gases. And Gov. Brown and other proponents have indicated there is still plenty of enthusiasm in Sacramento for achieving the petroleum reductions through executive, regulatory and other means.

But here’s the deal. The 50 percent reduction in petroleum use by 2030 is coming. Battery-powered electric vehicles and the charging stations for them are already available, affordable and practical; fuel cell electric vehicles and the fueling system for them are also emerging rapidly. The fall of the fossil empire will come about from a combination of new laws and regulations that tilt the playing field toward renewables and the rise of superior technologies that help us end our fossil dependency. The gasoline-powered internal combustion engine has had a good 100-year run, and the time for it to go is upon us, legislation or no.

There are already over 2,000 petroleum-free electric vehicles on the road in Sonoma County and about four new EVs are purchased here each day. For buyers of EV vehicles, it’s already 2030 and a visit to the gas station is a thing of the past. Who will be next? If you want to leapfrog into the future and be part of the solution, take a look at the new petroleum-free options available at your nearby auto dealer.

Woody Hastings is the Renewable Energy Implementation Manager for the Center for Climate Protection. He can be reached at [email protected]

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