Fight to Derail AB32 Could Spill Into Courts – Outside California

Thanks to a ballot initiative waged by a group called the California Jobs Initiative, California voters will decide in November whether to move forward with implementation of the state’s landmark emissions reduction law, the Global Warming Solutions Act (AB32), even though it was signed into law in 2006. But if the initiative, Proposition 23, fails, the battle may just be getting started. California Watch reported on Thursday that four states, Alabama, Nebraska, Texas and North Dakota, are all ruminating legal actions against California because they see the Golden State’s decision to limit greenhouse gas emissions as an affront to other states’ right to conduct interstate commerce.

If that sounds like a hard legal argument, consider a suit between Minnesota and North Dakota over a similar law. Says California Watch:

North Dakota supplies 60 percent of Minnesota’s energy, much of it from a massive lignite coal mine. Shortly after Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed a law mandating a 30 percent reduction in CO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants by 2012 and an 80 percent reduction by 2050, tensions erupted with the electricity supplier next door: The North Dakota legislature appropriated $500,000 to finance preparation of a legal challenge by [North Dakota attorney general Wayne] Stenehjem.

This emerging threat being launched from across the Rockies (funding for Prop 23 is flowing from Texas and Kansas, via Koch Industries) will only embolden efforts to fight Prop 23, which are getting organized all across the state.San Francisco’s Tom Steyer, co-managing partner of Farallon Capital Management, and George Shultz (yep, that one—the former Secretary of State under former President Ronald Reagan) are co-chairing the No on 23 campaign. Steyer, who has reportedly put $2.5 million into the No on 23 campaign, has challenged Valero’s CEO to debate the initiative. Calif. Republican Assemblyman Dan Logue, who backs Prop 23, was set to debate Steyer himself, but reportedly backed out.

The feel-good telecom Credo is backing a campaign called Stop Texas Oil, Hell No on 23, with rallies being planned for this weekend in gas stations affiliated with Valero, one of the main funders of the Prop 23 initiative.

Sustainability consultant Stephen Linaweaver this week also penned an open letter to Texas, warning it not to mess with California laws.  And UCLA economist Matthew Kahn writes that he’s changed his stance on AB32, saying it should not negatively impact manufacturing in Calif.

It’ll all come to a head on November 2, and until then, get ready for some heavy pushing by parties that stand to lose from drastic emissions reductions in Calif. and those who stand to gain from them. On November 1, Climate One will host a debate, Proposition 23: Job Creator or Killer?, at The Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. Panelists will include Nancy Floyd, managing director of Nth Power; State Senator Fran Pavley, who co-authored AB32; Jack Stewart, president of the California Manufacturers and Technology Association and Tom Tanton, president of T2 & Associates.

Freelance writer Mary Catherine O'Connor finds that a growing number of companies are proving the ways that they can make good financially, socially and environmentally (as the triple bottom line theory suggests).With that in mind, she contributes to Triple Pundit, as well as to Earth2Tech and other pubs focused on sustainability. She also writes The Good Route, an Outside Magazine blog that addresses the intersection of sustainability and the active/outdoor life.To find out more, or to reach her, go to

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