Jerry Brown on Environment



CA out front in addressing climate change

Besides the immediacy of the drought, there is the overarching threat of a warming climate. Incredibly--though last year was the hottest on record--there are still those who are in denial. The Paris climate agreement was a breakthrough and California was there leading the way. Over 100 states & provinces have now signed on to our Under 2 MOU. The goal is to bring per capita greenhouse gases down to two tons per person. This will take decades and vast innovation. But with SB 350, we're on our way.
Source: 2016 State of the State speech to California legislature , Jan 21, 2016

$25B for water-shortage farmland

The governor wants to see long-term solutions to the state's water shortage, possibly in the form of two 35-mile tunnels running under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a $25 billion project that would eventually move water to a parched area of farmland. And this year, he will back a proposed ballot initiative that would direct state dollars into a rainy-day fund, money that could help the next governor deal with the next recession.

"I'm not interested in a Jerry Brown legacy, whatever the hell that might be," Brown said. His initiatives, he said, will help cope with an influx of millions of new residents over the forthcoming decades. "We're not a homogenous state where it's easy to have 60% or 70% of the people agree on things. There are divisions," he went on. "These are longer term, serious, societal commitments that help knit us together as a people."

Source: Washington Post on 2014 California gubernatorial race , Feb 28, 2014

$48M for funding hybrid and zero-emission vehicles

Excerpts from Legislative Counsel's Digest:Status:Passed House, 53-20-5; passed Senate 27-10-2; signed by Governor, 9/28/2013.
Source: California legislative voting records: SB 359 , Sep 28, 2013

$14B to build tunnels and restore San Joaquin Delta habitat

1/6 of our water flows through the San Joaquin Delta. If because of an earthquake, a 100-year storm or sea level rise, the Delta fails, the disaster would [cause] losses of at least $100 billion and 40,000 jobs. I am going to do whatever I can to make sure that does not happen. My proposed plan is 2 tunnels 30 miles long & 40 feet wide, designed to improve the ecology of the Delta, with almost 100 square miles of habitat restoration; [it will cost about] $14 billion. That is big but so is the problem.
Source: 2013 State of the State address to California Legislature , Jan 24, 2013

Banned shark fin harvesting to protect sharks and ocean

Governor Brown signed legislation to protect the oceans and environment. AB 376 bans the possession and sale of shark fins in California. The practice of cutting the fins off of living sharks and dumping them in the ocean is not only cruel, but it harms the health of our oceans. Researchers estimate that some shark populations have declined by more than 90%, portending grave threats to our environment and commercial fishing. In the interest of future generations, I have signed this bill.
Source: California 2011 gubernatorial press release #17264 , Oct 7, 2011

Sustainability ideology obscures need for attitudinal change

There are a lot of good people running around--The Natural Resource of Defense Council, The Environmental Defense Fund, The World Wildlife Fund, Audubon--and there are a lot of corporations talking about sustainability and pollution in their annual reports. And yet, there seems to be a danger in this kind of environmental ideology in that it obscures the need for attitudinal change, for a shift in our relationship to the land, for a spiritual connection to place. The environmental discussion is not only about whether we can make a more efficient car and then recycle all the parts, because if we add millions, or hundreds of millions, of drivers to the planet and don't change the attitude, which emphasizes having rather than being, we will not forestall catastrophe.
Source: Dialogues, by Gov. Jerry Brown, p.147 , Apr 16, 1997

International produce supply line is not sustainable

To get more local food sufficiency and more biological diversity, it strikes me that 2 things are going to occur. Number one, you're going to require more human labor in the production of food; and number two , you're going to have to reduce these massive exports from the US.

The Oakland produce market starts opening at about 10:00 at night and these trucks pulling in are gigantic. I saw one truck being unloaded and I looked at some tomatoes that came from Sinaloa, Mexico. There was a whole bunch of produce stacked along the sidewalk there and I asked the driver, "Where did you come in from?" He said, "I came in from Nogales." That's a long way from here.

I just have to think that such a huge truck--the driver said it cost about $150,000--certainly burned up a lot of oil. That supply line, it strikes me, can't be a sustainable system.

Source: Dialogues, by Gov. Jerry Brown, p. 42-4 , Apr 11, 1997

Fight to save the Headwaters ancient redwood groves

[Interviewing Gary Snyder:] BROWN: How do you look at the fight to save the Headwaters--a spectacular 60,000 acres of ancient redwood groves in northern CA--owned and logged by Pacific Lumber Company? How can citizens block any further incursion into these remaining groves, which provide a vital habitat for a number of threatened and endangered species?

SNYDER: There are plenty of ways to get all the timber we need by intelligently, sustainably logging 2nd growth, 3rd growth, 4th growth, and on and on, for the next 10,000 years.

BROWN: Does Pacific Lumber have a right to maximum profit, despite the irreparable ecological toll? After all, private property is relatively recent in terms of redwood history.

SNYDER: It's a tragic story.

Source: Dialogues, by Gov. Jerry Brown, p. 67-8 , Dec 9, 1996

EPA cost analysis ignores value of standing forests

BROWN: When the Environmental Protection agency recently suggested tighter air restrictions, their reasoning was based on the costs of associated health damage exceeding the cost of reducing toxic emissions. It's the same old paradigm, founded on a simplistic equation whereby the whole argument is expressed in quantitative economic terms. So when you look at the redwood trees, it's the underperforming asset that, when chopped up, starts to really perform.

GARY SNYDER [Poet and writer]: Well, you could even use economic arguments by making a cost-benefit analysis for the next 200 years based on wealthy tourists coming to see the redwoods and paying for the amenities. Those redwoods would pay for themselves many times over.

Source: Dialogues, by Gov. Jerry Brown, p. 68-9 , Dec 9, 1996

Animals are public trust; why do trees belong to landowner?

The theory of the law is that the trees belong to whoever has title to the land, whereas the wild animals are held in public trust by the people at large. The only way that the people can stop the cutting of trees is to tie in the disappearance of the trees with the disappearance of the wildlife, which, in effect, does not belong to the landowner. That's the kind of indirect legal framework that creates such difficulty in stopping the massacre of the ancient forests.

Earth First advocates leaving trees to grow for at least 150 years. That might well be incompatible with the financial structure of Louisiana Pacific and Georgia Pacific.

Source: Dialogues, by Gov. Jerry Brown, p.253 , Sep 11, 1996

Capitalism needs to evolve to avoid ecological destruction

Capitalism has been with us for just a couple of hundred years and has evolved, it hasn't remained the same. As you look out and see the proliferation of inequality and the continuing assault on the environment, you see that the successes at the material level of the capitalist economy are running into some major contradictions.

What I see here is that the notion of the sanctity of property has obscured the fact that no person created the wildlife or the redwood trees. They were around before America ever became America.

You can't destroy timber in Humboldt County in a way that creates erosion, silts up the streams, destroys the salmon spawning ground, and, in other ways, impacts the larger community and the world.

Source: Dialogues, by Gov. Jerry Brown, p.254-5 , Sep 11, 1996

Protect the Earth; explore the universe; serve the people

For many years I've had three things that describe what I was trying to do, and I think they're more true today than ever. They were: protect the Earth, explore the universe, and serve people. I think those three things are reasonable. They have not lost anything with the passage of time. We have to protect the Earth, but at the same time we should be exploring the universe, and, in our own lives, our basic aspect should be service. The three-prong approach.
Source: Interview in Whole Earth Review, Winter , Nov 1, 1988

Other governors on Environment: Jerry Brown on other issues:
CA Gubernatorial:
Antonio Villaraigosa
Eric Garcetti
Hilda Solis
Jerry Sanders
Neel Kashkari
CA Senatorial:
Dianne Feinstein

Gubernatorial Debates 2017:
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Lame ducks 2015-16:
DE-D: Jack Markell
(term-limited 2016)
KY-D: Steve Beshear
(term-limited 2015)
LA-R: Bobby Jindal
(term-limited 2015)
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(retiring 2016)
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(term-limited 2016)
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Page last updated: Sep 11, 2016