(Editor's note: This is the first of two stories by Streetsblog LA Editor Damien Newton on efforts to delay implementation of California's groundbreaking climate legislation.)
In 2006, the California Legislature passed, and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed, Assembly Bill 32 (AB 32), a landmark law that requires the state to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
The legislation was the first of its kind in the United States and set a precedent numerous states have followed subsequently. For transportation reformers and environmentalists, AB 32 is important legislation that could still be a "game changer" in the way California thinks about transportation.
Thanks to a coalition of pro-business Republicans
and the oil industry, however, there is a strong push to place a measure on this
ballot to postpone the implementation of AB 32 objectives. Critics of the climate bill cite the current economic crisis as a
reason to delay trying to clean California’s air. Assuming opponents of AB 32 can gather a minimum of 433,971
valid signatures to qualify their measure for the November ballot, voters will be asked to vote to
"delay" the implementation of AB 32 until the state unemployment level
dips below 5.5%.
While former Gubernatorial candidate and current Congressman Tom McClintock and Assemblyman Dan Logue, the figureheads in the anti-AB 32 campaign, aren’t members of the oil lobby, a recent New York Times article revealed that oil giants Tesoro and Valero have funded the anti-AB 32 measure on the ballot. Neither firm will either confirm or deny their involvement.
Steven Maviglio, of Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs took exception to the idea that AB 32 is bad for the economy, saying the new ballot measure would be the culprit in damaging the bottom line, particularly in the clean technology field. "This initiative would destroy the clean energy economy," he said. "There's more than $5 billion in venture capital, 3,000 businesses and 45,000 people employed in Clean Tech. This would take a wrecking ball to the only flourishing part of the economy."