Prop 23

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Californians Split on Prop. 23

ConocoPhillips refinery in Rodeo, CA (Photo: Craig Miller)

A new poll finds that while two-thirds of Californians think global warming is an important issue, they are divided right down the middle when it comes to Proposition 23, the LA Times reports.  Prop. 23 is the ballot initiative that would suspend AB 32, California’s Global Warming Solutions Act, until the employment situation improves.  The poll, which was conducted for the Los Angeles Times and the University of Southern California, found 40% of those surveyed  in favor of Prop. 23 and 38% opposed.  Twenty-two percent were undecided.

More Proposition 23 coverage from Climate Watch

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. Continue reading

Major California Utilities Rejecting Prop 23

(Photo: Craig Miller)

While some oil & gas companies are behind it, none of California’s three major electric utilities appear to support Proposition 23, the ballot measure to upend the state’s comprehensive climate law, known as AB 32.

The growing list is a Who’s Who of the state’s electrical grid:

This week, Sempra Energy made it’s declaration against the measure, completing a sweep of the big-three utilities. Sempra is the parent company of San Diego Gas & Electric, Southern California Gas Co., Sempra Generation, Sempra Pipelines & Storage and Sempra LNG. A Sempra spokeswoman told Climate Watch that the energy giant is against 23 because it’s for AB 32.  “AB 32 plays a critical role in helping California develop a low-carbon economy,” she said, and added that Sempra is “heavily invested” in clean technologies, like “smart meters” and the infrastructure designed to support mass adoption of electric vehicles in the next few years. Continue reading

California Oil Refiners Split on Prop 23

A Shell oil refinery in the aptly named town of Oildale (near Bakersfield) back in 2004. (Photo: David McNew/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Times today runs down the list of California’s major oil refiners, which are also California’s biggest individual carbon emitters, and finds Tesoro, Valero, and Koch Industries  have not brought along their industry brethren in the fight to stop AB 32 with Proposition 23.

Prop 23 would suspend the 2006 law until the state’s unemployment rate drops to 5.5% or below and stays there for a year, something that’s happened three times in the last four decades, depending on how you count. Continue reading

Prop 23: The Statistical Maze

How long would California’s climate law be frozen under the ballot measure to suspend AB 32? It depends on how you read the state’s labor statistics.

There were moments during Monday’s Forum program on KQED when I thought I’d stepped through the Looking Glass.

The two principal guests were, by design, on opposite sides of the campaign for Proposition 23, the upcoming ballot measure to suspend California’s 2006 greenhouse gas law. So I didn’t expect the “Yes” campaign’s Anita Mangels and Solaria VP David Hochschild to agree on much.  But I never expected a dust-up over California’s historical unemployment rate. I mean, that’s a pretty easy one to settle — a matter of public record, right? Nevertheless, the two duked it out over just that. Continue reading

Rumblings of Another Attack on AB 32

Texas - more than a little interested in California's Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Here’s proof positive conferences put on by the Minnesota Rural Electric Association are can’t-miss events. Mark Schapiro of California Watch attended last month, and got a scoop (and I’m not talking about a scoop of Minnesota’s famed butter.)

Schapiro learned the attorneys general of Alabama, Nebraska, Texas and North Dakota are preparing to sue California if the golden state’s landmark law limiting greenhouse gas emissions survives a challenge at the ballot box this November from Proposition 23.

The grounds? AB 32 interferes with interstate commerce, according to Wayne Stenehjem, attorney general of North Dakota (pop. 642,200), giving new meaning to old phrase “the long arm of the law.”

“We are going to test the limits of how much you can constrain interstate commerce in the name of climate change,” Stenehjem told Schapiro.
Continue reading

Republican Candidates Ambivalent About Prop 23

Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Carly Fiorina looks on during a debate with U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer on September 1. (Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The e-mail from the Fiorina campaign Friday didn’t exactly sound like a ringing endorsement:

“Proposition 23 is a Band-Aid fix and an imperfect solution to addressing our nation’s climate and energy challenges. The real solution to these challenges lies not with a single state taking action on its own, but rather with global action. That’s why we need a comprehensive, national energy solution that funds energy R&D and takes advantage of every source of domestic energy we have – including nuclear, wind and solar – in an environmentally responsible way. That said, AB 32 is undoubtedly a job killer, and it should be suspended.”

Political reporters are reading that as a “Yes” on Proposition 23, the state ballot measure intended to freeze the state’s greenhouse gas regulations under AB 32.  But you could be forgiven for thinking she’s not really hot for the prop. Coming out against the state’s 2006 climate law isn’t necessarily an endorsement of Prop 23, since the former can be suspended — at least temporarily — without a referendum. Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman has vowed to suspend AB 32 by executive order, if she’s elected governor. Whitman has said she is leaning toward voting against Proposition 23 but has not taken an official position (Democratic candidates in both the senate and gubernatorial races oppose the measure). Continue reading

California Fails to Pass Renewable Energy Bill

California wrestles with its clean energy goals. (Photo: Lauren Sommer)

It came down to the final minutes before midnight last night for SB 722, the bill that would make law California’s 33% renewable energy goal by 2020. But as the bill’s author State Senator Joe Simitian says, “The clock just ran out. It’s as simple and painful as that.” Continue reading

US EPA Official Says “No on 23″

US EPA Regional 9 Administrator Jared Blumenfeld, at Crissy Field in San Francisco on August 25th. (Photo: Gretchen Weber)

The ranks of officials publicly opposing Proposition 23 seem to be growing.  Earlier this month we reported that Energy Secretary Steven Chu said passing the measure would be a “terrible setback” for California’s clean energy leadership and that the state’s Air Resources Board Chairman Mary Nichols called Prop 23 a “very serious threat” to the core programs of AB 32 and related regulatory programs.

Today, at a meeting of the California Air Pollution Control Officers Association in San Francisco, federal EPA Administrator Jared Blumenfeld urged attendees to vote against the measure.

Doing so, he said, “is certainly what you should do.”
Continue reading

The Overspray from Prop 23

On Monday, US energy secretary Steven Chu became the latest high-profile voice against California’s Proposition 23, the statewide initiative to suspend AB 32, the state’s four-year-old climate strategy.

“AB 32 was a good bill and continues to have California in a leadership role in developing clean energy and the efficient use of energy,” Chu told reporters at a dedication in Menlo Park. “From the middle 1970s California played that role and it would just be a terrible setback.”

Last week the trend was given full voice by Mary Nichols, who, as chair of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), is charged with getting AB 32 fully implemented in the next two years, called Prop 23 a “very serious threat,” not just to the core programs of AB 32, but to an array of regulatory programs that support the state’s attack on greenhouse gases. Continue reading