State Environmental Policy in The Hands of Voters

Mark Laluan

Earlier this month a Sacramento judge ordered Democratic Attorney General Jerry Brown to reword the description of Proposition 23, a initiative that would suspend key provisions of the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB32).
Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley stated the use of the term “major polluters” in voter and election documentation was both pejorative of industry and partisan given Brown’s open support of AB32 in his gubernatorial campaign.
Judge Frawley substituted Brown’s wording with the phrase “major sources of emissions” and in addition changed Brown’s wording of “requires the state to abandon implementation of [AB32]” with the term “suspends.”
AB 32 requires that California reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990s levels, this means in practical terms a 25 percent decrease in emissions from California’s current level.
Prop 23 would freeze enforcement of AB32 until statewide employment drops to 5.5 percent for the period of one fiscal year. Opponents of AB32 say that Prop 23 the way to prevent increased energy costs and job loss created by the fiscal burdens that would be created by the implementation of AB32.
Supporters of AB32, including Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, point that AB32 would create more jobs by promoting advances in green technology as well as reduce the negative environmental impact of industry in California.
With the direction of California’s economy at stake both sides have plugged massive amounts of funding into supporting or opposing Prop 23.
Valero Energy Corporation is the largest donor in support of Prop 23, giving over half a million dollars in funding to the Yes on 23 campaign.
The largest supporter of the battle against Prop 23, the Green Tech Action Fund, comprised of business interests benefiting from the development of green technology, match Valero’s donation by giving half a million to groups fighting Prop 23.
The East Bay has much riding on the direction the state takes this November. In Solano County, Benicia is home to large-scale oil refineries. Further south, the City of Oakland is attempting to remake itself as a center of green technology and services.
The potential for future profits and not California’s environment is the main consideration riding high on the minds of the supporters or the opponents of Prop 23.