Californians Reject One Anti-Environment Initiative But Vote For Another

Two propositions appeared on the ballot which could gut California’s Global Warming Solutions Act or AB 32. Proposition 23 would have suspended AB 32 until the unemployment rate stayed at 5.5 percent for one year. Fortunately, 61.4 percent of Californians voted against Proposition 23. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said of Proposition 23’s defeat, “This was a huge, huge victory for me, the state of California, the environment, green technology and for jobs, and all those things.”

It is interesting to look at how the various California regions voted on Proposition 23. The Bay Area and Southern California, the state’s two most populous regions, voted against the proposition. What surprised me is that half of the conservative San Joaquin Valley’s eight counties voted against Proposition 23. However, the margin of no votes was slim, as you can see below.

  • Fresno County: 50 percent opposed, 49 percent supported
  • Merced County: 52 percent opposed, 47 percent supported
  • San Joaquin County: 55 percent opposed, 44 percent supported
  • Stanislaus County: 50 percent opposed, 49 percent supported

While the majority of Californians voted against Proposition 23, 38.6 percent voted for it. Half of the San Joaquin Valley’s counties voted for the proposition, as did Southern California’s Orange County. You can see below that the margin of support was slim:

  • Madera County: 53 supported, 46 percent opposed
  • Tulare County: 53 supported, 46 percent opposed
  • Kings County: 51 supported, 48 percent opposed
  • Kern County: 54 supported, 46 percent opposed
  • Orange County: 51 supported, 48 percent opposed

It seems that much more work needs to be done to educate Californians in conservative areas about the importance of the clean tech industry, and the environment in general. Perhaps it is due to lack of information why Californians in most areas voted for Proposition 26, and ultimately passed it. Proposition 26 would alter the state’s constitution by requiring a two-thirds vote instead of simple majority in order to increase or enact a fee.

Opponents called it the “Polluter’s Protection Act.” The proposition’s goal is overturning the 1997 California Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in Sinclair Paint Company v. Board of Equalization which upheld fees on paint producers in order to help pay for lead poisoning caused by the paint. The court found that those types of fees are not taxes but regulatory fees that could be imposed by a majority vote.

A UCLA analysis found that Proposition 26 would undermine the principle that polluters should pay for the problems they cause. The analysis states that the proposition makes it more difficult “to impose some regulatory fees on hazardous products to address their adverse health effects on communities.”

Two product sustainability laws passed this year by the California State Legislature, AB 2398 and AB 1343, would likely be repealed, the UCLA analysis found. The two laws fund product stewardship programs to prevent hazardous chemicals from ending up in landfills.

Scott Hauge, the president of Small Business, supported Proposition 26. Hauge said something very telling about the Proposition: “In effect they will stop (AB32, the climate change law) with this.” The “they” Hauge refers to is Chevron, which gave $4 million in support of the proposition.

Clearly, Californians rejected one ballot initiative funded by oil companies, and supported another one.

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by

One response

  1. The Polluters Protection Act or PROP 26 is a treacherous, Big Oil rip-off, which “passes the buck” from oil corporation, clean-up fees to the taxpayer, who will pay the oil recycling fees, the toxic waste fees and other fees. Repeal Prop 26 and restore democracy. Solar power to the people. Big Oil snookered Californians with Prop 26.

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