GPW: Self-Tempered Anarchy since 2009

Your GPW Editor-on-Occasion is Petra Fried in the City.
Send us your stories, ideas, and information. Insiders welcome - confidentiality guaranteed.

stories along The Way

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Five Quick Questions with: Bill Magavern

As director of Sierra Club California, Bill Magavern is a leading voice on California environmental policy and advocacy. It would be rare for an article on a statewide environmental issue to not contain a quote from Mr. Magavern, so I wanted to hit him up for a few quick questions before all the new electeds got "all swore in."
BH: Democrats now hold all the major statewide offices in California along with a majority in the State Legislature. On the face of it, environmental protections should become stronger, then again, we are talking California politics here. What specific environmental actions do you hope to see the Jerry Brown administration taking in the next two years?
Bill Magavern: Jerry Brown campaigned on a rapid ramp-up in clean energy, which will carry with it a welcome boost in green jobs. We especially hope his administration will quickly realize his promise of “Building 12,000 megawatts of Localized Electricity Generation,” reducing our dependence on big utilities and long (and expensive) transmission lines. We also hope that he will back updated car standards from the Air Resources Board that make the auto companies move quickly to electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids.
You have been a leader in the Green Chemistry movement and have successfully pushed major legislation for our state, but budget cuts and a lack of political willpower have hampered the state's commitment to protecting us (and our kids) from thousands of toxic substances arriving on the market daily. Was Green Chemistry just a plastic pipe dream? What do you see as the future of Green Chemistry in California and what needs to happen?
Now that the outgoing administration has given away the Green Chemistry store to industry, we need Jerry Brown to restore the original intent of the law -- that California’s scientists will require manufacturers to remove toxic chemicals from their products. Right now our chemicals are considered innocent until proven guilty, which is a sound constitutional standard for judging whether a person should be locked up, but is not the right way to make chemicals policy.
Hugged any trees lately?
No, but I have fond memories of a dip in a mountain stream in Yosemite on a sunny October day this year. This is a beautiful state we’re trying to protect, and I love to get out and enjoy it when I can.
What specifically is on your Environmental Legislative Wish List for 2011?
Requiring electric utilities to get 33% of their power from clean-energy sources by 2020, putting water meters in new multi-unit residential buildings, and adequately funding public transit for a change.
Renewable energy, climate change, water, air, forests, habitat, land use, work on these issues and many more. What do you see as the biggest threat to our California environment and what can us "regular folk" do about it?
All of these problems stem, to some degree, from the disproportionate influence of big corporations on our political and governmental systems. Regular folk can vote for candidates who are willing to confront polluter power. In addition, you can let your elected officials know that if they want your vote they had better put people’s health ahead of the profits of the big oil, chemical and utility companies.
Thanks, Bill!