Governor Brown leaves lasting green mark

Source: By Kathleen Ronayne, Associated Press • Posted: Thursday, January 3, 2019

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) leaves office Jan. 7, 2019, after a record four terms as the state’s chief executive. After serving from 1975 to 1983, he was re-elected by voters in 2010.

Here’s a look at his record:


After leading California through one of its worst droughts, Brown this year signed a law requiring local governments to adopt year-round water conservation standards that critics deem government overreach.

He championed a 2014 ballot measure authorizing billions of dollars for water storage and other projects, and signed groundwater management laws.

But his ambitious plan to spend $17 billion on two giant tunnels to modernize how California transports water from the north to south won’t be completed before Brown leaves office, or possibly ever. It would be an extension of the State Water Project that his father, former Gov. Pat Brown, began during the 1950s and ’60s.

Environmentalists and Northern California farmers generally oppose it, while water districts in the south are supportive. The state recently withdrew a permit application that was likely to be blocked by a little-known state agency, and incoming Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) wants to see a scaled-back version of the project.

Brown says it’s a necessary update to the state’s water distribution and downplays concerns the south would take too much water.


At Brown’s urging, the Legislature in 2017 passed a fuel tax increase to raise $50 billion over 10 years for road and bridge repairs. Brown successfully beat back a repeal effort on the November 2018 ballot.

Brown has also championed the plan to build a high-speed train between Los Angeles and San Francisco, even as costs balloon. Approved by voters in 2008, the project has nearly doubled in cost and won’t be completed until at least 2033, a significant delay from early estimates. Repeated audits have faulted the project’s management.

Brown remains steadfast in his defense of the project, saying it will bring California into the modern age of transportation.

He disputed the state auditor’s findings during a recent interview with the Associated Press. His successor, Newsom, wants to scale back the project.

Climate change

Brown emerged as a global force in the fight against climate change during his second two terms.

He championed an extension to California’s cap-and-trade program that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It was first passed under former Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). Amid tense negotiations, Brown’s team made a deal that won support from both environment- and business-friendly lawmakers.

Brown also accelerated California’s clean energy goals and signed a law setting a target of generating 100 percent of California’s electricity from carbon-free sources by 2045.

The transportation sector remains California’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, and Brown pledged to put millions of electric vehicles on the roads.

He also created a global partnership of states and cities pledging to limit carbon emissions. As President Trump pulled the United States away from international deals, Brown traveled to China and Russia and worked with the United Nations on climate goals.