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George Shultz Weighs in on Clean Energy

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George Shultz, Ronald Reagan's Secretary of State--and not someone you'd mistake for an eco-warrior--makes a strong case for clean energy in the Sacramento Bee. It's interesting to see a point of view coming from somewhere other than the usual precincts, from a man whose opinion can't be dismissed as "another expected op-ed from the same guy, worded slightly differently." And he makes a fine point without posturing or grandstanding, and follows through with a strong, even swing.

Shultz begins by writing:

"A future for California based on clean-power technologies is both an economic and environmental necessity.

"It's about preserving clean air for our kids and fostering good jobs for our workers. It's about a California that leads the world in the next great global industry and in facing the next great global challenge. The effort to derail it would be a tragic mistake.

"Don't let it happen."

Now, this is where most of these types of pieces would end. But here's the operative part:

"There is a long history here of the pessimists underestimating what American ingenuity can do. In the congressional debate over the 1990 Clean Air Act, auto industry executives claimed that reducing auto emissions would have a devastating impact. Congress passed laws that called for a 39 percent reduction in hydrocarbons and a 60 percent reduction in nitrogen oxides in auto emissions. The auto industry met its emissions reductions targets and enjoyed record profits for the next decade. The lesson of history is very clear: Every time we challenge American industries with higher standards, they meet them earlier, for less money and invent new products for export along the way."

Well put.
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