SACRAMENTO — When Gov. Jerry Brown called on his fellow governors at a conference in Washington last week to embrace a California-style pursuit of cleaner air, he was doing more than reinforcing the state’s image as an environmental trailblazer. He was trying to protect its economy.
Brown needs other states and the federal government to adopt key elements of California’s environmental agenda, such as reaping more energy from renewable sources and capping greenhouse gas emissions, if those programs are to be successful here.
The state’s aggressive pursuit of environmental goals has provided a new impetus for green jobs and federal subsidies. But the programs are costly to businesses, raising the price of their energy and forcing them to upgrade to cleaner manufacturing technologies.
If others don’t go green, California could become an outlier, saddling businesses with costly new power while neighboring states continue to use traditional, cheaper energy, experts say. If the efforts under way in California spread to become the new normal, however, all will benefit from economies of scale.