Oil-Company Backed AB 32 Suspension on November Ballot
The November ballot will be a battleground over a key part of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s legacy – AB 32, the landmark law requiring a steep rollback in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.
Qualifying for the ballot June 22 is the “California Jobs Initiative,” backed chiefly by oil companies, which would suspend the law until California’s unemployment rate drops to 5.5 percent or less for four consecutive quarters. The state unemployment rate in May was 12.4 percent.
If voters approve the suspension that would also scuttle state efforts to obtain 30 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020 and create even cleaner burning fuels.
Mandatory emission reporting and the payment of fees by major polluters such as power plants and oil refineries would also halt until the suspension is lifted.
Supporters argue AB 32 will increase costs on businesses and consumers for everything from energy to food and transportation and increase unemployment.
No statement regarding the initiative qualifying for the ballot was immediately available on their website.
Opponents, led by Schwarzenegger, say the initiative will kill the state’s growing clean tech economy, increase air pollution, and drive up energy costs for businesses and homeowners.
They were also quicker to comment:
“This initiative sponsored by greedy Texas oil companies would cripple California’s fastest growing economic sector, reverse our renewable energy policy and decimate our environmental progress for the benefit of these oil companies’ profit margins,” the GOP governor said in a statement
“I will not allow this to happen on my watch. We will continue moving this state forward with our comprehensive energy policy that creates jobs, reduces our reliance on foreign oil and ensures the California we love will be the California we hand over to the next generation.”
The state’s high unemployment and the governor’s low approval ratings are factors the initiative backers will likely exploit.
Opponents, who have created a coalition of more than 300 groups, will focus on the large financial contribution of a handful of oil companies, most out-of-state, and the environmental benefits of continued AB 32 implementation.
“In November, Californians will have a clear choice: side with the out-of-state oil interests who are trying to kill our clean air laws and clean energy economy, or stand up for California jobs, clean air, and environment,” said Bill Magavern, Sierra Club California’s director in a statement.
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