New California governor promises to fight Trump on climate

Source: Anne C. Mulkern, E&E News reporter • Posted: Tuesday, January 8, 2019

New California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) today pledged to make the Golden State a leader in opposing the policies of the Trump administration on climate change and other issues.

Newsom took the oath of office at the state Capitol in Sacramento with his wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, and their children at his side. He succeeds outgoing Gov. Jerry Brown (D), whom Newsom credited for leadership on fighting global warming.

Newsom, the state’s 40th governor, took several swings at President Trump, saying, “We will offer an alternative to the corruption and the incompetence in the White House.”

He added, “Now more than ever, it’s up to us to defend” the California dream. “Thankfully, we have a champion in that [House] Speaker Nancy Pelosi,” a California Democrat, is there “to help us.”

“There’s an administration in Washington that is clearly hostile to California values and California’s interests,” Newsom said. “California has always helped write America’s future, and we know the decisions we make would be important at any time. But what we do today is even more consequential because of what is happening in our country.

“People’s lives, freedoms, security, the water we drink, the air we breathe, they all hang in the balance,” Newsom said. “The country is watching us. The world is waiting on us, and the future depends on us. And we will seize the moment.”

Newsom drew comparisons between what he called the achievements of the nation’s most populous state and the federal government. He noted that California’s economy is the fifth largest in the world and that it has created nearly 3 million jobs.

“Where Washington has failed on the epochal challenge of climate change,” he said, “California led, extending our cap-and-trade system and setting bold targets for lowering greenhouse gas emissions and then beating them.”

He also promised to fight back against “polluters who threaten our coastline.”

Green groups mostly praised the speech.

“We’re optimistic that Gov. Newsom will stand up to polluters both offshore and onshore, becoming the bold climate leader that California and the world sorely need,” Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute, said in a statement. “Newsom must first fill the gaping hole Jerry Brown left in California’s climate policy. That means committing to a thoughtful phaseout of the state’s own oil and gas extraction.”

David Festa, Environmental Defense Fund’s senior vice president, said Newsom faces many environmental challenges, including how to deal with the state’s massive wildfires.

“Californians live with year-round catastrophic wildfires that threaten lives and communities,” he said in a statement. “Multi-year droughts are stressing water supplies. Rising sea levels and flooding threaten to ravage our coastal communities. It is imperative that Gov. Newsom address these threats with solutions that make California more resilient to climate change.”