Prop 23

RECENT POSTS

DOE Secretary Opposes Prop 23

In what are believed to be his first public remarks on the subject, US Energy Secretary Steven Chu came out against California’s Proposition 23 today. Chu said passage of the measure, designed to suspend the state’s landmark climate law known as AB 32, would be “a terrible setback.”
Continue reading

Nichols: No Solo Cap-and-Trade

Cap-and-Trade is a lonely business these days. But according to the state’s top regulator in charge of implementing it, California won’t go it alone.

Air Board Chair Mary Nichols, flanked by Google Green Energy Czar Bill Weihl (left) and PG&E Sr. VP Tom Bottorff, at a panel sponsored by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. (Photo: Craig Miller)

Mary Nichols, who chairs the state’s Air Resources Board, made the remark in a Silicon Valley panel discussion today. The ostensible topic of the event was renewable energy but it turned into a pep rally against Proposition 23, the statewide ballot measure designed to halt California’s comprehensive climate law, AB 32. Nichols was joined on the panel by executives from Google, PG&E and venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, all of whom voiced strong opposition to Prop 23.

When asked about the cap-and-trade provisions of AB 32, Nichols said: “We won’t launch this program without partners to trade with. It doesn’t make sense for an economy even as big as California, to try to do this all by ourselves.” The comment came days after congressional leaders threw in the towel for the summer, on a federal bill to address climate change and energy security. “To get the kind of leverage that you really need to make this program succeed, the US has got to step in,” said Nichols.

California is part of a nascent regional trading pact known as the Western Climate Initiative. But among the seven US states and four Canadian provinces signed on to the WCI, only California, New Mexico and Quebec are prepared to move forward with a working carbon trading market. Others still lack enabling legislation, and Arizona has overtly pulled out of the carbon trading plan, raising the question of how many “partners” California will have, even with WCI in the mix.

“I don’t expect to be faced with this dilemma,” Nichols told me after today’s event, “but if the worst were to happen and none of these states were able to move forward with their own programs, I think we would think long and hard about whether we would actually start enforcing the program, unless and until we were really confident that our  state had the ability to do it in a way that would not put us at a competitive disadvantage.”

Proponents of Prop 23 contend that full implementation of AB 32 will give other states and nations a competitive edge over California, resulting in “leakage” of jobs and businesses to regions with fewer regulations.

The panel, entitled “Electric Bills and Oil Spills: Will California Continue To Be a Clean Energy Leader?” was held on the Google corporate campus in Mountain View.

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

Coal, Soot and A Mighty Wind

This week in climate news: coal dollars in California, soot in the air, and wind in the desert.

1. Big Coal Donates to Fiorina Campaign

Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina received $63,000 in donations  from out-of-state coal mining interests. About a third of that money is from Murray Energy Corporation in Ohio, the largest privately owned coal producer in the U.S. Continue reading

Poll Shows Support for Climate Law

An expansive new poll on environmental attitudes suggests that despite the recession, Californians are holding fast to their environmental priorities.

Among the findings in the report released this week by the non-partisan Public Policy Institute of California is that support for the state’s climate change strategy remains strong, even in the face of a well-financed campaign against the law known as AB 32. Two-thirds (67%) of the respondents support the 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act, aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in California–about the same level as when PPIC polled the question last year. Continue reading

Climate Action May Be Up to the States

Just a couple of weeks back, some stalwarts still held out hope for a federal climate bill this summer. But with the capitulation by congressional leaders on Thursday, this week the legislative landscape looks undeniably bleak. And with flagging expectations for multinational climate talks, the heat is now turned up once again on the so-called “sub-national” actors, like states and provinces. It also lends more gravitas to efforts like Governor Schwarzenegger’s announced third climate summit for sub-national leaders, scheduled for November at UC Davis. Continue reading

In the (Climate) News

We know there’s a lot happening out there.  In case you missed them, here are a few recent climate stories that have been on our radar this week.

1.  Charges against “Climategate” scientists dismissed for the third time
Another independent review of British researchers in the “Climategate” scandal came to the same conclusion of previous investigations: The researchers did not manipulate their data. However, the review does fault the researchers for being less-than-forthcoming with their data at times, and for being  lax in response to critics.
(Read more at the Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, and BBC.com)

2. Utility giant PG&E opposes AB 32 blocker
CEO Peter Darbee released a statement in opposition of Proposition 23 saying that “…unchecked climate change could cost California’s economy alone tens of billions of dollars a year in losses to agriculture, tourism, and other sectors.”  Prop 23, which qualified for the Nov. 2 ballot last month, would suspend AB 32 until unemployment falls to 5.5 percent for four straight quarters.
(Read more at the The Sacramento Bee and CleanTechnica.com)

3. Federal funding for carbon capture and storage research
This week the Department of Energy announced approximately $67 million for ten projects designed to develop technology for CO2 capture and storage from coal power plants, a strategy considered central to reducing global CO2 emissions.  Menlo Park-based Membrane Technology and Research, Inc. is slated to receive almost $15 million of the funds.
(Read more at The New York Times Green blog.)

5. Cloud seeding could make things wetter
Spraying seawater into clouds to combat global warming could yield wetter seasons, a Stanford study found.  The analysis used computer simulations of the global climate system with increased CO2 levels and more reflective clouds over all of the world’s oceans. Researchers said they were surprised by the findings because previous computer simulations have found that using geoengineering to whiten clouds and decrease solar radiation could make the Earth drier, not wetter.

Chistopher Penalosa is a Climate Watch intern.