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Gov. Jerry Brown vows legal action to defend Washington's clean-power plan

Gov. Jerry Brown vows legal action to defend Washington's clean-power plan
California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at the Carbon Neutrality Initiative at UC San Diego on Tuesday. At the two-day climate change summit at UC San Diego, researchers are discussing their blueprint for concrete action that the state and the world should take to tackle the problem. (Lenny Ignelzi / Associated Press)

Gov. Jerry Brown is planning legal action to defend Washington's clean-power plan, a key part of President Obama's effort to combat climate change despite tenacious opposition from Republicans in Congress.

"We're going to intervene," he said in an interview Tuesday after speaking at an oceanside forum on global warming hosted by the University of California.

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Several states have sued to block new federal regulations intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. California will fight the opponents' lawsuit as an interested party.

The governor's comments follow his statement Friday pledging to do "everything in my power to fight this pernicious lawsuit." At that time, he criticized "misguided political representatives" who are seeking "to take America into a dark age of climate denial."

Brown's upcoming legal action and his speech come a little more than a month before he travels to Paris for a United Nations summit on climate change.

In his remarks to academic leaders, scientists and students at Tuesday's conference, he touted the state's progress on climate issues and its potential as an international role model.

"If we put all of our best minds together in California, that is a very formidable force, and nothing less than that is required," Brown said.

The University of California has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2025, and it released a new report on how to apply those lessons to other areas of the world.

The governor said those recommendations will "keep me working long after my short remaining term."

Brown criticized politicians who deny the human causes of climate change, singling out leading Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson. He recalled sending him scientific research to change his mind on the issue.

"I said, 'Go read it,'" the governor said. "I don't know if he ever did."

Brown suffered a setback this year when some fellow Democrats blocked his goal of cutting petroleum use on state roads in half within 15 years.

"A surprising number of legislators thought that was too far out," he said.

When it comes to combating climate change, Brown said, "We are up against very powerful opposition."

Oil interests had lobbied hard against the petroleum targets.

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Brown said new innovations will be necessary to reduce emissions from transportation.

"Can battery technology advance to the point where it's cheaper, more efficient, lighter weight, so truly the electric car can outcompete, even without subsidies, the combustion engine?" he said.

Follow @ChrisMegerian for more on California government and politics.

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