What some view as a trendsetter, others deem kooky.
California has set a goal of phasing out electricity produced by fossil fuels by 2045 under legislation signed this month by Governor Jerry Brown (D). The signing ceremony preceded a climate summit Brown was hosting in San Francisco. He believes man-made climate change is real, it is bad, and it is going to get worse if mankind does not reduce its dependency on fossil fuels.
Kathryn Phillips, director of the Sierra Club's California chapter, hopes it will serve as an example beyond the state's borders. "People watch what we do, and they adopt policies that are the same or similar to what we are adopting," she said in remarks printed on SierraClub.org.
"It's crazy that they do these things," says H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. of the Illinois-based Heartland Institute. "They should set the standard, saying, 'Here's how much energy we need' and then tell the utilities, 'Find the cheapest way of providing this energy for our people,' [because] that's what is good for businesses, and that's what's good for residents."
Pointing to The Golden State's television ads urging people to "come to California," Burnett says these actions by Governor Brown and other lawmakers are actually driving people out of California.
"I honestly don't know what they're going to do when they have nobody that can afford their energy bills or their houses so they won't have teachers or police offices," he continues. "All they'll have is the wealthy who wonder why they can't get their lawns mowed or their kids don't have teachers at school. No one can afford to live there but the rich."
Business groups are not happy with the goal, saying it sets impossible targets that may drive up already high electricity prices -- something Burnett says is harmful to the poor.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports some environmental groups want Brown to take things one step further and ban new drilling permits.