AB 32: The Normandy of Climate Change Legislation

It has been a rough going lately for those who are advocating greater action to stall climate change.  The bumps all began with Climate-Gate, a non-controversy that nonetheless gripped Fox News and soured many on the data behind climate change theory.  Americans are focused on the economy and the national debt, so any talk of climate change and renewable energy is drowned out by unemployment figures hovering around 10%.  You would think that the Deepwater Horizon spill would galvanize more people into action or at least talk, but that does not seem to be the case.  Al Gore has disappeared, with little to say about the last few months’ events.  Congress is a basket case as usual, so climate change or energy policy legislation is doubtful this year.  And if Congress cannot get anything done, climate change concern will wither away.

Or will it?

Yesterday I had another conversation with Larry Goldenhersh, founder and CEO of Enviance, a provider of environmental ERP software.  In Goldenhersh’s opinion, action in Congress is neither here nor there.  What really matters is AB 32, the Global  Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which requires California’s greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced to 1990 levels by 2020.  But thanks to California’s absurdly easy rules that allow citizens to vote on complex legislation (which has run the gamut from a horsemeat  ban to marriage to insurance laws), a measure on November’s ballot, Proposition 23, would scuttle AB 32.  Using  the argument that AB 32 is a jobs killer, two Texas oil companies are largely behind the effort to roll back AB 32.

So why does AB 32 matter?  The controversy puts Goldenhersh and his firm in a peculiar spot—many of Enviance’s firms are energy companies who have a vested interest in seeing that AB 32 is overruled—and they are Enviance’s clients because of environmental regulations to which they must follow.

Goldenhersh argues that should California voters uphold AB 32, we will witness a transformation of energy policy—the Normandy invasion of climate change.  Pair that with a Jerry Brown victory in the governor’s race, and you have cap-and-trade in California by 2012 or 2013.  Even if Republican Meg Whitman wins the race, should voters choose to stay with AB 32, that decision should only delay cap and trade legislation another year at the most.  And considering California’s voters have a history of starting national trends from property tax to insurance reform, to (ahem) amassing debt, there’s a good chance that other states could start their own cap and trade programs as well.  So Congressional action or inaction would be moot.

If California rejects AB32 by voting yes on Prop 23, the results would send a chilling effect far beyond California’s voters.  Since the 1960s the Golden State has passed regulations aimed at cleaning the air and water.  A Yes on Prop 23 would send a signal to the world that citizens would conclude that climate change legislation is just too expensive at this time.

So the next few months will be a nail-biting and hair-raising affair.  We have a governor’s race costing US$100.5 million—that .5 is what Jerry Brown has spent so far.  A proposition on the ballot that could nix a legacy of 40 years of environmental legislation: and Goldenhersh stated that about $US150 million will be spent on that fight.

Enviance has a host of resources on a portal devoted to AB 32.

One prediction about California politics is that they are often unpredictable.  Californians often have a history of electing the most colorful and then bland personalities.  Gadflies like Brown and Reagan were followed by the pallid Deukmejian, Wilson, and Davis.  And yet Californians tend to frown on folks who try to buy elections, as Al Checchi, Michael Huffington, and most recently, PG&E found out.  Stay tuned—the ride to November will be a tumultuous one!

Based in Fresno, California, Leon Kaye has written for TriplePundit since 2010. He has lived across the U.S., as well as in South Korea, Abu Dhabi and Uruguay. Some of Leon's work can also be found in The Guardian, Sustainable Brands and CleanTechnica. You can follow him on Twitter (@LeonKaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost).

5 responses

  1. Fantastic. Then the Movie Industry can move back to Florida where it was a century ago–unless, of course Thermageddon raises the sea level 20 feet, or was it 2 feet, or 200 feet…I can't keep the lies straight.

  2. Normandy ?

    So this is a beachhead, in a war against America? And you appeal to our patriotism?

    Well alright then.

    “Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons.” Sounds right in this instance.

    “You're not supposed to be so blind with patriotism that you can't face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who says it.”

    “If patriotism is “the last refuge of a scoundrel,” it is not merely because evil deeds may be performed in the name of patriotism, but because patriotic fervor can obliterate moral distinctions altogether”

    “Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious.”

  3. It's an analogy, people, relax. And grow up over the “climate change” is a lie buffoonery. Finally, I remember the patriotism of Canadians during the whole controversy over Quebec separating in the 90s. You can slice and dice a meaning anyway you want.

  4. “The bumps all began with Climate-Gate, a non-controversy that nonetheless gripped Fox News and soured many on the data behind climate change theory.”

    Sure is easy to say, but why no link to a report? Climate-gate has no link. Are we to take your word that it's a non controversy when a handful of activists, charged with measuring the world temperature, lead authors all who decide what goes into and what is kept out of the IPCC reports, colluding to control even what appears in scientific journals? A non controversy when a panel of green energy investors examine a slate of scientific papers hand picked by Phil Jones himself, then declare Prof Jones clean as a whistle?

    I think otherwise. Probably you will too after reading the climate gate emails.
    Here's your link. http://www.assassinationscience.com/climategate/

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