AB 32 rollback measure qualifies for Nov. ballot

An initiative funded in large part by two Texas-based oil companies to roll back California’s landmark greenhouse gas emissions law has qualified to appear on November’s ballot, Secretary of State Debra Bowen has just announced.

AB 32, the state’s global warming law, requires that California’s greenhouse-gas emission levels be cut to 1990 levels by 2020, a cut of about 15 percent from current levels; to that end, state authorities are working on formulating a “cap and trade” system in which California businesses would be able to choose between installing new equipment to clean up their emissions or buying emissions credits from those who do.

This “California Jobs Initiative” would suspend AB 32 until California’s unemployment rate – now at 12.6 percent – drops to 5.5 percent or below for four consecutive quarters; the measure’s proponents claim leaving the law in place will cost the state jobs it can’t currently afford to lose, while opponents claim leaving the law in place will actually create jobs in the burgeoning green technology sector.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, is joining Sierra Club Chairman Carl Pope, San Francisco Baykeeper Executive Director Deb Self, Natural Resources Defense Council Senior Scientist Gina Solomon and Environmental Defense Fund West Coast Political Director Wade Crowfoot for a news conference tomorrow afternoon on San Francisco’s Pier 7 to decry the measure.

They’re holding their event by the Bay to remind voters of the Cosco Busan oil tanker accident of 2007, in which 53,000 gallons of bunker fuel spilled; the measure’s opponents have made much of the fact that oil companies have continued to bankroll this measure even as the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster continues to unfold.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Ralph Hoffmann

    I like air pollution. It reminds me of when I worked in as oil refinery.

  • By way of clarification, the California Jobs Initiative will not “roll back,” repeal or in any weaken AB 32. It will merely adjust the timing of regulations that will put over a million jobs at risk and cost Californians billions of dollars in higher energy prices until the state’s economy improves. And since even the California Air Resources Board acknowledges that “California acting alone cannot reduce emissions sufficiently to change the course of climate change worldwide” it’s just common sense to re-think the timing of AB 32. With almost 2.3 million Californians out of work and a $20 billion budget deficit, we can’t afford to spend billions and sacrifice jobs for a global warming law that will do absolutely nothing to reduce global warming.

  • AJ

    Cry me a river Arnold!

  • Anita Mangels, who is paying your salary for your job with the misleadingly named California Jobs Initiative campaign? BP? Valero?

    You should learn from the experiences of PG&E and Mercury Insurance in the recent election … you can’t buy changes in the law.

  • John W

    I hate “corporate democracy” ballot initiatives like this, even if there is a case for delaying things until we get some improvement in the economy.

  • jon Elam

    This is becoming a pattern of how democracy plays out in California. Legislature fails to deal with an issue and well moneyed interests take matters into their own hands and buy a place on the ballot. The people then become a pawn in a debate of money versus policy.This seemly will be the way that governance will be working and one day someone will do a ballot measure to eliminate the state (which seems sort of useless anyway) and have the money stay will the people and they can fund the services they support or not support.

  • Ms. Mangels, like the oil companies she represents, is being deceptive — the intent of this proposition is to KILL AB 32, not “suspend it” The economic conditions outlined in the ballot measure have happened once in a blue moon — only 3 times. California’s clean energy law has created more than 500,000 jobs, attracted $9 billion in venture capital investment, and is helping families and businesses across the state reduce their energy costs from nonpolluting sources.

    Oil companies are responsible for 79 percent of the funding for this ballot measure; 80 percent is from out of state.

    And talk about chaos in the marketplace — if this thing passes, businesses will have to comply with the law one quarter and then not the next. Crazy.