Riding the wave of enthusiasm for green issues, California lawmakers have introduced more than 60 pieces of legislation that address greenhouse gases and global warming. The state with palm trees and beaches is now faced with a choice of directions that will undoubtedly impact other parts of the country that follow its lead.

Already on the table are bills to force school buses to run on biodiesel, make it easier to allow housing projects to install solar power, require more efficient appliances and add incentives for gas-station owners to offer alternative fuels. Other bills that address hydroelectric and nuclear power are being pushed.

The biggie, however, is a repeat from least year: require that half of all cars sold in California run on alternative fuels by 2020.

The sudden rush for lawmakers to suddenly show off their green colors bears no surprise to veteran political observers. Legislators made more than 1,000 changes to the criminal code after crime was a leading concern of California citizens in the '80s. Now greenhouse gases and global warming are the issues du jour. The Prius is no longer a girly car but a statement of environmental awareness.

Not everyone is carrying the flag on this issue. Business interests don't want to see profits evaporate in the heat of policy change. Legislators may reap the publicity benefits when they introduce bills, but let's see how they react when the lobbyists snuggle up to them in committee hearings.

[Source: Mark Martin / San Francisco Chronicle]

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