Whitman, Utilities Commission Oppose Prop 23

The backers of California’s Proposition 23 can add two significant new names to its list of opponents: Republican Gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman and the state’s Public Utilities Commission.

Neither should come as a huge surprise. Whitman hinted at a “no” vote weeks ago, when two conservative L.A. radio hosts backed her into a corner. Forced into at least a vague commitment one way or the other, Whitman said she would “in all likelihood” vote “no.” This week it became official when Whitman released positions on all measures that will appear on the statewide ballot. In a statement, Whitman said:

“While Proposition 23 does address the job killing aspects of AB 32, it does not offer a sensible balance between our vital need for good jobs and the desire of all Californians to protect our precious environment. It is too simple of a solution for a complex problem.”

That means there’s at least one thing on which Whitman and her Democratic rival, Jerry Brown, agree. Both oppose 23, though Brown is a staunch supporter of AB 32. Whitman still maintains that if elected, she would use the provisions of AB 32 itself to suspend regulations under the law, until the economy recovers from the current downturn.

Meanwhile the official body that oversees the state’s electric utilities has adopted an official position against Prop 23. That’s not shocking, either, considering that its President, Michael Peevey, has been stumping against 23 on his own for months. In an interview following dedication of PG&E’s Vaca-Dixon solar array, Peevey called the measure a potential “body blow” to California’s progress toward “a more sustainable and vital environment and economy.”

In an official CPUC statement following the vote, Peevey said:

“We must resist the efforts of out of state oil companies to roll back one of the most important environmental protection laws California has ever enacted…Suspending AB 32 would reverse the regulatory signal to invest in clean, environmentally friendly resources…Delaying action now will make it more expensive to reduce greenhouse gases in the future.”

Prop 23 would suspend California’s centerpiece climate legislation, known by the shorthand “AB 32,” until the state’s unemployment rate drops substantially. But the CPUC resolution describes Prop 23’s effect as an “indefinite” suspension of the law.