Proposition 23, AB32 and California Politics

By Dan Heffernan

Its going to be an interesting November.

Polls show huge gains by the minority republican party nationwide.  Incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer is fighting for her political life in a tough race against Carly Fiorina.  Jerry Brown is looking for another reign as California’s governor, after a few decades “break”.   And Californians have the opportunity to vote on Proposition 23.

Proposition 23, funded primarily by oil companies Tesoro, Occidental and Valero, would effectively dismantle California’s 2006 history-making climate bill, AB32, which mandates a 25% reduction in the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.  An ambitious plan, to be sure, and one that would institute a combination of regulations and market mechanisms beginning in 2012, with arguably mixed, but modest impacts on jobs in the state overall.

The language of Proposition 23 imposes a freeze on all provisions of AB32 until California’s unemployment rate dips to 5.5% or below for four consecutive quarters.   This will effectively postpone AB32 forever:  unemployment in California was 12.2% in June, and has only met the conditions of Prop 23 three times in the last 40 years!

Enter, an election year.

Race for Governor: Support for AB32 tends to fall along party lines (save current California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger), and the struggle for California’s highest office is no exception.  Meg Whitman has pledged to temporarily suspend AB32 pending further analysis, and seems somewhat undecided on Proposition 23, though she admitted recently to leaning against it.  Jerry Brown has made his stance on AB32 and Proposition 23 a cornerstone of his campaign: “When I was governor, California was the world leader in renewable energy and it led the nation in efficiency standards,” said Brown. “Investing in clean energy and increasing efficiency are central elements of rebuilding our economy. (AB32) will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, build the businesses of the 21st century, increase energy independence and protect public health.”

Race for Senate: Republican Senate-hopeful Carly Fiorina calls AB32 a “job-killer” and claims its repeal would lead to more jobs in the State. Incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer falls in the opposite camp, citing a Pew Charitable Trust Study showing California’s “green job sector” added 10,000 new companies and added 25,000 new jobs over a 10-year period.  While this also includes a 5-year period prior to AB32’s passage, there’s little question that cleantech investments in California have been huge since the bill’s passage in 2006.

And its not just the high-profile races. State Senate candidates John Laird and Sam Blakeslee’s recent debate over AB32 fell along party lines, with Laird attacking Blakeslee for not supporting the measure.  Blakeslee stopped short of whole-hearted support for Proposition 23 (Republicans in general have seemed more hesitant of late to strongly embrace the initiative), but indicated his belief that AB32’s enactment would merely export non-compliant businesses (and the jobs they support) out of California.

This November, there are two fronts open against California’s AB32 – opposition candidates and an industry-backed initiative.  The climate, and California’s green economy are at stake.

It’s going to be an interesting November.


Dan Heffernan lives and works in San Francisco and is a renowned political news junkie. Check out his heavily biased political blog

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3 responses

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  2. The key thing to keep in mind is that, according to CARB, AB 32 will do NOTHING to help global warming, will cost jobs and have a negative effect on the economy. This comes from the very people who drew it up!

    AB 32 does nothing for local pollution.

    Prop 23 leaves us with the toughest pollution laws in the country, among the toughest in the world. It will NOT increase local pollution

    If Proposition 23 is rejected, here is what will happen according to expert sources:

    •A 60 percent increase in your electricity bill according to the Southern California Public Power Authority.

    •An 8 percent increase in your natural gas bill according to CARB’s economic analysis.

    •$50,000 more for the price of a new home according to an analysis by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

    •$3.7 billion a year more for gasoline and diesel according to Sierra Research.

    •A $1,000-$3,000 additional cost for a new car according to CARB and automaker studies.

    On top of all that, a study conducted for the California Small Business Roundtable found that AB 32 regulations would cost small business alone nearly $200 billion, and would result in more than 1 million lost jobs.

    The more I learn about AB 32, the more I fear it. It just gets worse. Please vote yes on Prop23.

    “”2 Guys on the Bay Area Transportation Board told the CARB people, “If you try to do what you are going to do(AB 32) we’ll have gas at $9.07 a gallon and we have freeway tolls at up to $4,500 a year to drive during rush hour.”

    “Part of the plan is to stop suburban development, get people to stop driving, make driving too expensive for people to live out there, force them to live in high-rises, condos, in the city.”

    For months, John and Ken have made Prop 23 their top priority, calling it a necessary step to stop a law they say will kill jobs and cost Californians a fortune in higher gas and energy prices. With an estimated one million listeners per week, these two guys usually manage to rally enough votes to get their way.

    The video has John and Ken explaining why they think this bill is the most important measure on the ballot.

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