California's Clean Energy Future

This hour was pre-recorded in front of a live audience, hosted by member station KCLU in Thousand Oaks, California, on Saturday evening, Nov. 7, 2009.

A solar energy panel is carried to be placed in a solar energy field under construction for the Sacramento Municipal Utility District in Rancho Cordova, Calif., Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2009. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger used the site to sign an executive order giving California the nation's most aggressive energy standards that would require utilities to get a third of their power from renewable sources by 2020. (AP)

A solar energy field under construction for the Sacramento Municipal Utility District in Rancho Cordova, Calif., Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2009. (AP)

California has always been a mainspring of American economic growth. In wave after wave of discovery and innovation, from gold to the Internet, California has cracked open new frontiers for itself and the country.

Now California’s in trouble — with debt, foreclosure, layoffs, unemployment worse than the nation’s.

But once again it’s got a great, bright hope — this time, clean tech and the green economy. It’s on fire, but is it enough?

This hour, On Point: in a special broadcast from outside Los Angeles, can California’s green economy save California? Can it save the country?

You can join the conversation. Tell us what you think — here on this page, on Twitter, and on Facebook.


Mary Nichols, Chair of the California Air Resources Board (appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in July 2007). She was assistant administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Air and Radiation program under the Clinton Administration.

Bill Gross, a lifelong entrepreneur and founder of Idealab, a business incubator which seeks to help fledging companies with new innovations. Idealab is invested in Aptera Motors, Energy Innovations, eSolar (where Gross is CEO), Distributed World Power, RayTracker, and Infinia. Energy Innovations completed the world’s largest corporate solar installation at Google headquarters in 2006.

Gary Polakovic, former lead environmental writer at the Los Angeles Times, where he shared in a Pulitzer Prize. He’s now president of Make Over Earth, Inc., a public affairs firm specializing in environment and energy issues. He’s covered environmental issues in California and across the nation for 23 years.


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