LAS VEGAS — California Gov. Jerry Brown referred to anti-tax hike advocates as having a notion “that taxes are like a sexually transmitted disease” during a panel discussion featuring Western state governors at the National Clean Energy Summit.
Brown, who was joined by Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire, called market fundamentalism “an impediment” toward renewable energy development and said there’s a “paradox” between government spending and budget cuts.
“Green energy is financed by ratepayers and the federal government,” Brown said. “The cumulative bill for infrastructure development is going up all the time and we aren’t keeping up.”
Gregoire echoed Brown’s views on federal government involvement and said she’d “like to see a national clean energy standard” but “doubts it will happen.”
All three governors supported their states’ respective renewable portfolio standards, which establish timeframes for renewable energy development. Sandoval, who supports Nevada’s “25 by 25” portfolio standard, said states need to work with the federal government to develop renewable energy. Suffolk University's Beacon Hill Institute has estimated similar standards will cost Oregon and New Mexico over 15,000 jobs in the next few years.
“Renewable priority [energy] is a very high priority with me and the state of Nevada,” Sandoval said. “Since Nevada is 85 percent federal land, we have to have a very good relationship with the federal government.”
While all three governors agreed on the government’s role in renewable energy development, they admitted that the bill for these developments will ultimately fall on taxpayers.
“No one wants to see that sticker shock on their bill,” Brown said. “Ratepayers don’t want to pay more than they need to.”
Brown cited climate change as a reason for continued federal involvement in renewable energy, claiming “near unanimous support” among scientists. Brown then asserted that climate change “will affect us, but we may not see the effects until it’s too late.”
The panel discussion was moderated by John Podesta, the director of the Center for American Progress, one of the summit sponsors.