Gov. Brown vows climate firewall against President-elect Trump

Attorney General  Jerry Brown speaks news conference disclose new developments in his prope of excessive salaries in the City of Bell, in Los Angeles  Monday, July 19,     2010. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

With just a few years left in his marathon return tour as California governor, Jerry Brown has promised not to back down on his climate policy in the face of what could be a powerful change in priorities from above in a Donald Trump administration.

Moving to reassure his party earlier in the election season, Gov. Brown had signaled critics of his approach to environmental policy that he’d organize opposition to their agenda if they increased their political power. “In August, Brown vowed to ‘vanquish’ climate change skeptics,” the Los Angeles Times recalled. “‘Bring it on,’ Brown said at the time. ‘We’ll have more battles, and more victories.'”

Now, in his first remarks after Donald Trump’s election to the presidency, Brown promised “to do his part to find common ground with the president-elect,” but “put Trump on notice that ‘as Californians, we will also stay true to our basic principles,” as the Bee also reported. “We will protect the precious rights of our people and continue to confront the existential threat of our time — devastating climate change.”

Competing interests

Although analysts have often hesitated to predict that a Trump administration will follow through on all the promises the candidate had made or qualified on the campaign trail, liberals and progressives have expressed special concern over what Trump might do on climate change, such as backing out of promises made at the recent landmark Paris talks — where a delegation of California Democrats played a high-profile role.

“Brown has repeatedly contrasted the intransigence gripping Washington with California’s progressive policy approaches, from joining other countries to address the threat of climate change to shielding the rights of unauthorized immigrants,” the Bee added. “In the statement, the fourth-term governor moved past his earlier criticism of Trump, and didn’t directly address the incoming president’s dismissal of climate change as a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.”

California Democrats have braced for harder sledding ahead on the environment. Democratic strategist Steve Maviglio told the San Jose Mercury News, “Republicans now have a free hand to intervene in California’s battles over water, which often pit agribusiness against environmentalists and fisherman. Water allocations for imperiled species like Chinook salmon could be tightened. It’s one of many conflicts he foresees,” the paper noted

Increased anxiety

Party fears have arisen that without a supportive president, California could begin to change shape in Americans’ minds from a bellwether and vanguard state into a marginal outlier. “Trump’s stunning election threatens years of Democratic progress here and deprives the state’s ambitious social change agenda of a sure collaborator in Clinton,” as the Bee suggested. “From local concerns like affordable housing and homelessness, to statewide priorities such as climate change, health care, immigration reform, gun control and the protection of organized labor, nowhere is the nation’s embrace of Trump felt more acutely than in deep-blue California.”

But not all leadership figures popular on the west coast have fueled anxiety. Brown has worked to steer clear of what has become sometimes frantic criticism of Trump from within his party, projecting a steely-yet-relaxed demeanor reminiscent of Bernie Sanders’ recent pledge to work with the incoming administration where possible and to oppose it elsewhere. At a dinner in Sacramento for labor organizers last week, Brown joked “that if Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump wins the presidency, California would build its own wall at the state’s border — an obvious reference to Trump’s ambition to build a wall between the United States and Mexico,” as the San Francisco Chronicle noted. “If Trump were ever elected, we’d have to build a wall around California to defend ourselves from the rest of this country,” said Brown, caught on video reported by the Sacramento Bee.

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