In 1966, when smog obscured the Los Angeles skyline and residents choked on noxious fumes, California enacted the country’s first clean air law. In 1970, a year after an oil spill tarred Santa Barbara’s pristine coastline, Gov. Ronald Reagan signed into law the California Environmental Quality Act, one of the toughest environmental laws to date.
Today, as climate change fuels the fires that rage from Seattle to San Diego, we have another opportunity to be a leader in environmental policy. For the last 15 years, our family foundation has funded climate research and solutions to improve our interconnected water, air, energy, and food systems. The nightmare scenarios predicted for 2050 are already a reality. The experts and researchers we work with are frightened as global warming accelerates before our very eyes. California has the chance to lead again — but we’re not currently the environmental champion we once were.
We know that fossil fuels are at the root of global warming, yet few states or political leaders have been willing to address rampant oil and gas production or stop the corporate profiteering from unhealthy air quality, soil and water. As an economic powerhouse, California can prove that untethering our future from a polluting and corrupt industry is not only possible, but is also necessary to build the clean, renewable, more equitable energy future we want.