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Posts from the AB 32 Category


California’s Climate Laws Undermined by Weak Transpo Policies, Investment

California's lack of good transportation policies and transit investment points to a failure in Sacramento. Photo: ##

California's lack of bold transportation policies and transit investment points to a failure in Sacramento. Photo: aquafornia

A new report from NRDC and Smart Growth America — which examines what all 50 states are doing to curb greenhouse gas emissions from transportation — lauds California as the most progressive state on policy, but points out that its transportation and spending priorities don’t match the bold blueprints, particularly as it relates to public transit.

It all points to Sacramento, where legislators have continuously raided the only dedicated fund for transit, leading to massive cuts statewide.

The report praises the state’s smart-growth law, SB375, as a model for other states, noting that “it puts in place a strong framework that can be used to drive better coordination between transportation and land use, and, of particular relevance to this analysis, to do so in a way that reduces GHGs.” It remains uncertain, however, “whether SB 375 will deliver results on the ground as opposed to just changes in planning documents.”

In September, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) adopted ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and 2035, a move that will compel the state’s metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) to better integrate land use and transportation planning. The real test for SB375 will come at the local level as MPOs draft plans to meet the targets.

Unless the state prioritizes investments in sustainable transportation, California’s progressive policies will continue to be undermined.

“Huge cuts to public transit threaten these (policy) gains and could lead to even more devastating consequences for California communities and the economy,” said a joint press release from Smart Growth California, NRDC, TransForm and the Sierra Club of California. “In California, transportation policies and spending decisions are not in line with the state’s bold commitments to reduce the amounts of carbon dioxide and other emissions being pumped into the air.”

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Proposition 23 Opponents: Climate Change Impacts National Security

Flickr photo: Thomas Hawk

Flickr photo: Thomas Hawk

Climate change is a national security risk that will be exacerbated if Californians pass Proposition 23, the voter initiative on the ballot this November that would suspend California’s AB 32 climate change law, say opponents of the measure, such as former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz.

Shultz and financier Thomas Steyer, co-chairs of the No on Propostion 23 campaign, held a media briefing today on what they described as the threats to America’s energy security and economy if California’s landmark 2006 climate change law was suspended.

“The issue of climate, the issue of economics, the issue of national security all point us in the same direction. We need to get control of our use of energy and the way we produce it, the way we use it,” said Shultz, a former marine who fought in World War II and later served as Secretary of State for President Ronald Reagan.

Steyer said Prop 23 would continue to mire America in an unstable energy policy. “Our energy use, our approach to climate, the health of our economy, our ability to develop new technologies and build new businesses, all of these factor into our national security,” he said, adding that “dismantling rules that foster innovation and that make us more energy secure doesn’t make sense.”

Shultz tied American energy policy to the threat of terrorism and rogue states just days before the anniversary of the September 11th terror attacks.

“The security implications of our energy situation are compounded greatly by the fact that the revenues that are generated by our use of oil and that of others go, in part, to countries that don’t wish us well,” said Shultz. “Undoubtedly some of this money is slopping over into the hands of terrorists, the 9/11 people. I think the security side of this is very important to recognize.”

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New Report Impugns Texas Oil Companies Funding California Prop 23

AB_32_presser_8_10.jpgSan Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, No on Prop 23 Chair Tom Steyer, and Ella Baker Center Green-Collar Jobs Campaign Director Ian Kim at the microphone. Photo: Matthew Roth.

UPDATED: 10:00 pm, 8-11-10

The fight against Proposition 23, which qualified for the November ballot and if passed would suspend California's pioneering climate law AB 32, got testy today as San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom called out Valero and Tesoro, the Texas oil companies spending the lion's share of the money for Prop 23, and said political candidates like Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina were standing in the way of progress for cheap political gain.

Mayor Newsom joined with the No on Prop 23 campaign, the California Nurses Association, and the California chapter of the American Lung Association at a press conference in the Bayview to highlight a new report, "Toxic Twins" by the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and the California Environmental Justice Alliance. The report details the numerous environmental violations perpetrated by Valero and Tesoro as well as the toxic chemicals they spew legally and illegally into the air.

As the report shows, Tesoro and Valero combined have four facilities on the list of the top 15 worst polluters in California, with Valero's Benicia refinery at number 4 and Tesoro's Martinez refinery at number 8. Both companies have also repeatedly violated pollution laws in California and continue to do so, settling with government agencies like the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. The report also notes the people most impacted by the pollution are people of color and low-income communities.

"Just like BP cut some corners in the Gulf Coast to make a little extra money with disastrous consequences, we know with this report today that these nasty Texas oil companies Valero and Tesoro are cutting corners in California every day to make a little more profit," said Ian Kim, the Green-Collar Jobs Campaign Director for the Ella Baker Center.


Grassroots Coalition Jumps Into the Fight to Protect AB32

4544049143_8503ae5ac4.jpgA protest earlier this year against efforts to rollback AB 32. Photo: Ella Baker Center

A new coalition launching in the coming weeks is mobilizing groups with deep roots in their communities to take on Proposition 23, a measure on the November ballot that seeks to overturn AB32, California’s landmark greenhouse gas regulation bill.  Communities United Against the Dirty Energy Proposition represents those who suffer the worst effects of greenhouse gases but often have the most trouble being heard.

The contrast could hardly be sharper.  In one corner, there are the big Texas oil companies who are Prop 23's most prominent backers. In the other, you have groups like the Green the Rez Campaign, a project of the Bishop Paiute Tribe in the Eastern Sierra that promotes renewable energy and sustainable living on the local reservation.

The oily Texans trying to roll back AB32 already face opposition from a number of mainstream politicians and environmental groups. Now they’re about to get clobbered by a concerted effort that pulls together organizations with strong ties to Asian, Latino, African American, and Native communities. The connections they make between their health needs and the economy call into question the stale jobs versus environmental rhetoric and will give the No on Proposition 23 campaign loads of street cred.

“Prop 23 is a dirty oil industry trick to try to undo a major California environmental law, and if passed, will put all people at risk from more pollution, especially low-income and people of color, who bear a huge and disproportionate burden of fossil fuel and industrial pollution,” said Bradley Angel, Executive Director of Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice, a member of the new coalition. “The health of our state’s most vulnerable communities is more important than dirty oil company profits.”

Greenaction has been in the thick of the struggle to stop expansion of a waste dump in Kettleman City, where residents have reported a cluster of birth defects they attribute to the current dump already nearby.


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Campaign to Protect AB 32 Gains Steam and Endorsements

As if the Campaign to Stop the Dirty Energy Proposition weren't already on the right side of history, now they've got Edward James Olmos stumping to defeat Proposition 23 and uphold AB 32, California's ground-breaking greenhouse gas legislation. I think ever since Stand and Deliver, if Edward James Olmos told me to do something, I wouldn't hesitate to trust his authority.

Kidding aside, Olmos delivers a great message and his spot is the first of several videos the campaign hopes will go viral and spread through social networks. Because they expect to be outspent many times over by the Texas oil giants Valero and Tesoro, the 13th and 32nd most toxic air polluters nationally, the Campaign against Prop 23 is trying to get to voters in as many creative ways as possible.

Steve Maviglio, lead organizer for the Campaign, said they have raised $2 million to date and they anticipate bringing in another $5 million in the next two weeks. A recent a Field Poll showed Californians support AB 32 by a double-digit margin and, historically, measures that start with a proximate lead usually finish that way. What's more, the endorsements are pouring in, with the California Labor Federation, Pacific Gas and Electric, the California Professional Firefighters and the California Democratic Party all publicly endorsing the Campaign in opposition to Prop 23 over the past few weeks.

All of the major newspapers in the state, with the exception of the noted conservative-leaning Orange County Register and the San Diego Union Tribune, have denounced Prop 23 and even large oil companies like Chevron and Shell won't wade into the swamp their petrol peers have created.

Maviglio cautioned against too much excitement, however, because he knows the Prop 23 funders, notably Texas oil companies Valero and Tesoro,  will begin pouring in money, perhaps as much as $100 million by the time the election nears.

Maviglio said any campaign for or against a proposition is a "chess campaign," but this year's governor's race makes it much harder to predict the moves of the opponents.

"Meg Whitman bough most of the ad time in October" already, said Maviglio, so it will be difficult to get in edgewise with their message. Fortunately, though Whitman wants a 1-year moratorium on AB 32, she doesn't support Prop 23 and won't run ads in conjunction with her personal campaign. As KQED noted, Whitman has even toned down her anti-AB 32 rhetoric recently.

If you haven't already, forward the Olmos video to your friends and help generate some buzz.


Battle Lines Drawn Over AB 32 As Oil Companies Qualify Ballot Measure

Refinery_pic_small.jpgPhoto: Thomas Hawk.

Though California Secretary of State Debra Bowen yesterday certified a November ballot measure asking voters to suspend AB 32, a landmark state law requiring a significant cut in greenhouse gas emissions, AB 32 supporters have been organizing for months and have formed a significant coalition to fight the initiative.

In a move usually associated with congressional Republicans, they've also honed their message to clarion simplicity: Support a clean energy future or support Big Oil.

Californians for Clean Energy Jobs, the coalition supporting AB 32, argues the paradigm is no longer about jobs versus the environment, but supporting an innovative economy that benefits the environment .

"It's not a battle between tree huggers and business," said Steve Maviglio, the spokesperson for Californians for Clean Energy Jobs. Maviglio said he was impressed that over 350 supporters had already stepped up, including heavy political hitters like the Association of American Retired Persons (AARP), the American Lung Association, the California Teachers Association, the California League of Women's Voters and the California Nurses Association.

"These are groups the American people trust and they don't trust oil companies," he said.

The poison pill in the ballot measure, according to Maviglio, is the provision that would suspend AB32 until California's unemployment rate falls below 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters, something that has only happened three times in the last 30 years. California's jobless rate is currently at 12.3 percent.

While the bulk of support for the coalition comes from the clean energy sector, Maviglio said Virgin America, deeply reliant on traditional petroleum fuels, was a member because they wanted to be on the right side of the issue. He also noted that Chevron and the California Chamber of Commerce were staying out of the fight because of the significance of AB 32.