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Despite Trump, California pushes to expand clean energy policies


California continues to go big on renewable energy.

A report released today by the business group Energy Entrepreneurs, or E2, found 519,000 Californians work in the clean energy industry, with the state’s environmental policies driving $45.5 billion in investments.

The clean energy industry faces at best a skeptical White House, with President Donald Trump’s budget calling for large cuts to renewable energy programs.

Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Monday he does not believe that carbon emissions are primarily responsible for climate change, ignoring scientific consensus and evidence of human contributions to global warming.

The divide between California and the Republican administration grew when Trump decided to pull the country out of the Paris environmental accord. Tesla CEO Elon Musk quit two presidential business advisory boards in the wake of the decision.

The conversations to expand clean energy incentives are thriving in California.

Gov. Jerry Brown is pushing state lawmakers to pass legislation to extend the cap-and-trade program and help cut carbon emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. The clean energy businesses that comprise E2 expect to benefit from the extension of the cap-and-trade program beyond 2020.

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Oil and gas companies oppose an extension, which effectively raises the cost of burning fossil fuels. It’s designed to reduce greenhouse gases from multiple sources.

The Bay Area has four of the top 10 counties in the state for clean energy jobs: Santa Clara, with 34,300 jobs; Alameda, with 22,100; San Francisco, with 18,200; and Contra Costa, with 13,300. Los Angeles tops the list with 117,000 jobs, followed by San Diego with 61,500.

The tally counts clean energy jobs in energy efficiency, wind, solar and other renewable energy businesses.

Photo: Giant wind turbines near Los Vaqueros Reservoir in Brentwood during ribbon-cutting ceremonies at the Vasco Wind Energy Center at Altamont Pass in Livermore on May 31, 2012. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)

Tags: clean energy, elon musk, Gov. Jerry Brown, Rick Perry, solar, wind