Gov. Jerry Brown, who was an early advocate for clean energy during his first governorship 30 years ago, told business leaders at an event here today that he was committed to picking up where he left off.
Brown talked about tax incentives for solar energy that he approved in 1977, initiatives that he said were eagerly embraced.
At the time, there was "no resistance," he said. "Those were the good times."
Today, the governor, who is in the second year of his third term, said he finds himself facing more resistance to his proposals. He's promoting an ambitious agenda aimed at reforming pensions, shifting state inmates to local jails and stabilizing the budget.
But he said he's still committed to pushing for more clean-energy options. Last year, Brown signed legislation that requires one-third of the state's electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020.
Immediately following the governor's remarks, his office announced an executive order setting a goal of 1.5 million zero-emission cars in California by 2025. It also released details of a $120-million settlement that is to help fund electric-car charging stations in the state.
Speaking at the Wall Street Journal's annual ECO:nomics conference, which hosts some of the world's largest commercial firms, Brown appeared relaxed and his remarks unscripted.
He defended the state's business climate, citing efforts to cut red tape and speed permits for new businesses, and received some support from the executives in attendance for his "creativity" and "honesty."
One participant thanked the governor for his role in expediting drilling permits in the state.
Brown also seized the opportunity to tout his controversial plan to build a high-speed rail system in California.
Brown said that option will be much cheaper than other transportation alternatives, such as new roads or expanding airports.
"If we design it right ... build cities out right, I think it will be a fantastic thing," he said.