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Green awards flow to governor of state deep in red

Bob Tippee

While his state teeters financially, outgoing California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is sweeping up environmental awards.

On Dec. 15, Schwarzenegger received the inaugural Green Governor of the Year Award from Beautiful Earth Group, a New York solar and wind-power company.

Beautiful Earth gave Schwarzenegger the award “because of his groundbreaking achievements in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and combating climate change, his push for an increase in the state's renewable energy portfolio requirement; his ability to balance the complex interests of environmental groups, energy developers, utilities, and consumers; and, in an election year, for turning the tide against a regulatory framework that potentially supports legalized pollution.”

On Dec. 2, the US Environmental Protection Agency gave the movie star its Climate Change Champion Award “in recognition of his accomplishments in green energy, clean technology, but above all for his extraordinary leadership in the struggle against global climate change.”

Californians must be very proud—at least those not on the receiving end of a state unemployment rate above 12%.

Schwarzenegger is proud.

Accepting the Beautiful Earth award, he said, “California is showing the world that you can protect the environment and grow the economy at the same time. We are creating a new economic foundation for the 21st Century built on clean fuel, clean energy, and clean cars that is turning California into the green capital of the nation and the world, and I couldn't be more proud of these accomplishments.”

Never mind that Chief Executive magazine ranks California at the bottom of states in business climate, in part because of burdensome environmental regulations.

Never mind that California in October closed a $19 billion fiscal gap with a budget that the credit-rating service Moody’s said “relies heavily on one-time measures, optimistic revenue assumptions, and the receipt of funds some of which may not materialize.” Moody’s warned of future budget gaps of at least $12 billion.

The “green capital” is broke. But its governor is an environmental champion. Does anybody see a connection?

(Online Dec. 17, 2010; author’s e-mail:

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