California News

Voters to decide on Calif. global warming law

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

California voters will decide in November whether to put a hold on the state's global warming law.

Supporters of a new ballot initiative say the fight against greenhouse gases means lost jobs.

Texas oil giants Valero and Tesoro contributed most of the $3 million needed to gather enough signatures to put the California Jobs Initiative on the November ballot.

It would suspend the state's landmark global warming initiative known as AB 32 until the unemployment rate remains steady at 5.5 percent or less for one year. Businesses, in effect, would be able to delay spending the money needed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions during these tough economic times.

"The last thing we want to do is perpetuate a tax and regulatory climate that sends out a big 'Not Welcome' sign to businesses in the state of California," said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn and co-chair of the California Jobs Initiative.

California has seen a 5.5 percent unemployment rate only three times in the last 30 years.

Since the current jobless rate is 12.4 percent, it could be a long time before AB 32 is implemented again.

"This initiative will turn back the clock," said Paul Knepprath with Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs. "It will repeal, kill the momentum we've made to clean up our air. The oil companies really don't care about what Californians breathe."

Signing it into law in 2006, AB 32 is seen as part of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's legacy. It encouraged cleaner cars and sparked alternative energy investment.

He believes AB 32 will continue to create jobs in green tech industries, a sector in which California leads.

"That does not hold back any greedy oil companies from Texas to come to California, trying to roll back our progress that we have made," Schwarzenegger said.

"Everyone will come together and we will push back," the governor added.

But companies that aren't part of the green wave might struggle with costs like converting to hybrids or solar panels in order to reduce their carbon footprint required by AB 32.

"Someone will lose their health insurance," said Julian Canete, executive director of the California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. "Someone will lose their job. A business will just close down."

As seen in the June primary, corporate-backed initiatives do not always win. Voters rejected the Mercury Insurance and PG&E proposals.

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