Ballot preview: Prop. 23 would suspend global warming law

October 26, 2010

One in a series of brief analyses of the measures on California’s November statewide ballot.

To see our other ballot prop analyses:

Proposition 19, go here.
Proposition 20: Congressional districts.
Proposition 21: State Parks.
Proposition 22: local government revenue

Proposition 23: Suspension of global warming law

Background:This measure seeks to suspend, and essentially repeal, California’s landmark global warming law, known as AB 32. Ab 32, passed in 2006, requires the state to reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases by 2020 to the levels emitted in 1990. That would mean an estimated 30 percent reduction by 2020 from the levels where they would be without the requirements of AB 32.

Most of those reductions are expected to come from changes in the way heavy industry operates. Power plants, cement manufacturers, oil refineries and other heavy industries are preparing to retool their operations to reduce their emissions and meet regulations imposed by the state’s Air Resources Board. The board is also expected to create a market for emissions “credits” that will allow businesses that cannot economically reduce their emissions to buy credits from other companies that are able to reduce their emissions by more than the amount required. This market is expected to allow industry to meet the state’s goal in the most economically efficient way possible.

The regulations are supposed to be adopted by Jan. 1, 2011 and take effect no later than Jan. 1, 2012.

What Proposition 23 would do: Proposition 23 would suspend the provisions of AB 32 until the state’s unemployment rate drops below 5.5 percent for four consecutive calendar quarters. The unemployment rate is currently 12.4 percent and will not likely drop below 5.5 percent for several years. There have been only three periods in the past 40 years when the rate was below 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters.

Who is for and against Proposition 23?

Proposition 23 was put on the ballot with financial support from two Texas-based oil companies, Valero and Tesoro, and they are largely funding the campaign. The two companies have contributed more than $7 million in support of the measure. The measure is also supported by many business groups, including the California Farm Bureau, the California Manufacturers and Technology Association, and the California Trucking Association.

Proposition 23 is opposed by nearly every environmental group in California, plus many green energy and high tech companies, labor groups, business associations and local governments.

Bottom line:

Vote Yes on Proposition 23 if you think the state should stop its efforts to reduce the greenhouse gases believed to lead to global warming.

Vote No on Proposition 23 if you think the state should continue to lead the nation in regulating the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

–Daniel Weintraub

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