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Climate Change

Move to Delay California’s Greenhouse Gas Law Gaining Steam

1:42 PM PDT on May 3, 2010


Republican Gubernatorial candidates are only debating
how best to delay the implementation of A.B. 32

Proponents of clean energy and environmental laws
designed to reduce greenhouse gases had best not take the challenge to California's AB 32 too lightly. Backers of a ballot initiative that would
"delay" implementation of the law until the state's unemployment level
is below 5.5 percent for a full year look to have gathered enough signatures to put the measure to a vote this November. The
coalition collecting signatures
for the ballot measure is
submitting its signature list for certification to state elections
officials and The

Sacramento Bee quotes one of the campaign's leaders as exclaiming,
"We're headed to the ballot!" 

The affront to AB 32 is more than just a
handful of out-of-state oil companies (like Texas-based
oil firms
Tesoro and Valero) and
conservative activist organizations. Both major Republican candidates
for Governor support some sort of delay for the legislation. In addition, the populist rhetoric fueling the
campaign pitting over-reaching government against small business owners
who are being strangled by
over-regulation seems tailor made for a tea-party rally. Add to that the
alarmist figures coming from the
California Small Business Roundtable
, which estimates that
implementation of A.B. 32 will cost small businesses in California about
$50,000 annually and would destroy more than one million California
jobs and it wouldn't be surprising if more voters are swayed by the
campaign.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger,
who's reputation as a "Green" governor rests on this legislation's
implementation, released a strong statement slamming the backers of the initiative:

The effort to suspend AB 32 is the work of greedy oil companies whowant to keep polluting in our state and making profits. AB 32 will addjobs, create savings in energy costs and increase personal incomes. Infact, the highest job creation California is seeing right now is in ourgreen economy. When I ran for Governor, I said if special intereststried to push me around, I would push back. That's exactly what I willdo to these greedy oil companies.

Critics of the delay initiative also say that the
proponents know that the unemployment rate is unlikely to dip to that
level anytime soon and the ballot measure is just a clever way of
defeating the legislation. As you can see by the chart below, the
state unemployment level is almost triple that number, and hasn't been
at 5.5 percent in years. 

5_3_10_chart.jpg

Supporters of AB 32 should also emphasize the jobs angle, but show how the greenhouse gas law improves the economy. The
Bee
also featured a story this weekend about one of the many green
businesses that are based in California because the state's green
policies guarantees a market over the next couple of years. The
illustrates how fierce the competition is for these businesses between states. While California has experienced a Green Jobs boom in recent
years, resulting in 159,000 new jobs, states such as Ohio are jockeying
to have those jobs move out of the Golden State.

The good news is that a recent statewide poll, 58 percent
of California voters
still back A.B. 32.  But history has shown us
that those numbers can turn around in a hurry if some of the rhetoric
being pushed by the naysayers catches on.

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