Meg Whitman

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Whitman Commits on Prop 23 — Sort of

The mystery of whether Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman does or does not support Proposition 23 would appear to be solved. After weeks of steadfastly refusing to take a stand one way or the other on the ballot measure to freeze the state’s climate law known as AB 32, Whitman conceded on a radio broadcast that “In all likelihood I will vote ‘No’ on Prop 23.” Continue reading

The Escalating Conflict Over AB 32

Bearfight_blogCalifornia has had a climate change mitigation law on the books for more than three years now–but getting that law’s regulations fully in place is proving to be a tough slog.

Fans and mortal enemies of California’s Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) all exude certainty about what the carbon emissions-cutting law will do for–or to–the state’s economy. Lately the debate has escalated into full-scale PR warfare. Major battlefronts include:

- A signature campaign for a ballot initiative to suspend the law

- An online campaign to boycott oil companies funding the above

- Studies & surveys from both sides proclaiming their case

- A gubernatorial candidate who has vowed to suspend AB 32

This week both sides weighed in afresh.

The California branch of the National Federation of Independent Business today announced support of what proponents still call the “California Jobs Initiative,” even though the measure has been renamed by Attorney General Jerry Brown, who supports AB 32.

The measure would suspend most provisions of the climate law until the state’s official unemployment rate improves substantially from its current 12.5% level. NFIB statements say “the measure is headed for the November ballot” but only if proponents gather more than 400,000 required signatures.

John Kabateck, executive director of  NFIB/California said in a conference call with reporters today that his organization would help gather signatures to qualify the measure. He called the climate law “one more arrow in the quiver of damage and pain inflicted on small business right now.” In a companion news release, Kabatek ventured that full implementation of AB 32 would cost California more than a million jobs.

California’s non-partisan Legislative Analyst has concluded that while the exact job impact is hard to pin down, AB 32′s overall effect would be relatively minor compared to the state’s total economy.

Meanwhile, pro-AB 32 activists are circulating an online petition calling for a boycott of Valero and Tesoro, two Texas-based oil companies that are helping bankroll the suspension measure in California.

The NFIB announcement followed by one day the unveiling of a new poll showing support for AB-32 among California voters. The survey shows 58% of Californians “favor” the law either “strongly” (34%) or “somewhat.” One in four surveyed said they strongly opposed the measure. Sixty-four percent said they supported charging industry for excess emissions, while 31% opposed that. The poll was conducted in March by Field Research for Next 10, a public policy think tank that strongly supports AB 32.  Field polled about 500 voters for the survey, which has a margin of error of 4.5%.

Business is sharply divided over AB 32. The viewpoint of those wary of it is generally represented by the AB 32 Implementation Group. Other business leaders strongly support the law, including it’s cap-and-trade provisions. An outspoken example is Barry Cinnamon, CEO of Akeena Solar, who recently laid out his position for Alison van Diggelin, publisher of the Fresh Dialogues blog site.

In that conversation, Cinnamon skewered the “inane commentary” of  gubernatorial candidates calling for the undoing of AB 32. Republican candidate Meg Whitman has pledged to order a one-year “moratorium” on regulations under AB 32, on her “first day as governor,” calling the policy “wrong for these challenging times.”