Voters reject a measure to set aside California’s landmark climate law.
California’s chief air regulator was jubilant: “They didn’t know who they were messing with,” said Mary Nichols, when the first numbers came in from the polls.
Nichols, who chairs the state’s Air Resources Board, was reveling in the 20-point trouncing that voters gave the statewide ballot measure to freeze the state’s greenhouse gas law, known as AB 32. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger seized the World Series moment and the locale, adjacent to the San Francisco Giants’ ballpark, to take a swing at the oil companies that financed Prop 23: “Less than 24 hrs later, we are beating Texas again,” proclaimed the Governor, who has made the state’s 2006 climate law a tent pole of his legacy.
While much was made of the millions that two Texas-based oil companies put into Prop 23, opponents, led by some pillars of Silicon Valley’s “clean-tech” and venture capital community, eventually outspent the oil companies three-to-one. The “no” forces argued that the state’s environmental leadership was already yielding its own dividends in jobs and innovation. Voters apparently agreed.
Carl Pope put it succinctly: “It tells me that the future of California has arrived,” the Sierra Club chairman told me on election night. “Once you create a clean energy economy, people will not let it go.”
Prop 23 sought to suspend all regulations under AB 32 until the state unemployment rate dropped to 5.5% or lower, for four consecutive quarters. AB 32 is scheduled to be fully implemented, starting in two years.