Arnold Schwarzenegger

Environmental Action Hero

Dec 1, 2004
Outside Magazine

When he took over as governor of California in November 2003, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the 57-year-old, Austria-born bodybuilder and action-film star, was poised to do what many thought was impossible: turn the GOP—or at least his Left Coast slice of it—green. " 'Jobs vs. the environment' is a false choice," he said on the campaign trail, and then he backed it up with an ambitious environmental action plan for California that included mandates to cut air pollution in half by 2010; start a Green Building Bank, offering incentives to eco-friendly construction projects; and ensure that 20 percent of California's power comes from renewable sources by 2010 (and 33 percent by 2020). So how's he doing so far? After focusing on budget deficits and government restructuring for the first ten months of his term, in September the Governator signed into law more than 20 pro-environment bills, creating the Sierra Nevada Conservancy to protect 25 million acres of central California and cracking down on cruise-ship pollution, while also backing a 25 percent reduction in exhaust emissions from cars and light trucks by 2016. Even skeptical groups like the Sierra Club are giving him a cautious thumbs-up. "He's off to a fair start in signing legislation," says Bill Allayaud, legislative director of Sierra Club California. "But his whole record is uneven." Right, and what about the famous vow to modify one of his Hummers into a hydrogen-fuel-cell hybrid? California EPA director Terry Tamminen, the former head of Santa Monica BayKeeper whom Arnold appointed at the recommendation of cousin-in-law Robert F. Kennedy Jr., is standing by his boss. "He promised to convert one of his Hummers to hydrogen during the campaign," says Tamminen, "and the governor is always a man of his word."

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