Battle over California’s climate law heats up

What was speculation for months is now confirmed: Texas-based oil companies are the principal funders of a state ballot initiative that would suspend California’s Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32). Reports(pdf) filed last week with the Secretary of State reveal that Valero Services Inc. ($500,000), Tesoro Co. ($100,000) — both of San Antonio, TX — and several other oil companies have contributed 70% of the funds collected to qualify the measure for the November ballot.

The initiative needs 433,000 certified signatures to qualify, and its backers have hired a signature-gathering organization to do the legwork. The canvassers, who stand on street corners or outside shopping centers, get paid $1.00-$3.00 per signature. From my conversation with a signature-gatherer in Berkeley last week, it’s clear that this is a purely mercenary business. The young man was armed with at least six clipboards, each with a different voter initiative.

For the one opposing AB 32, he asks registered voters to sign the following petition:

“Suspends air pollution control laws requiring major polluters to report and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming until unemployment drops below specified level for full year.”

In response to my questions, the signature-gatherer struggled to explain the rationale for the initiative and could not counter points that I raised about the job-creating potential of AB 32 and how it will support a clean energy economy. He acknowledged that relative to other petitions, he was having a hard time – at least in Berkeley – getting people to sign.

But California is a big state with many areas in which simplistic arguments about environmental protection threatening jobs may resonate with voters. Oil money from Valero and others makes dollars-for-signatures an easy game to win.

Many business and environmental leaders are organizing to fight back. Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs has sponsored a “No on Valero” website to help mobilize supporters of AB 32. Newspaper editorial boards are starting to write on the issue, e.g. Repealing AB 32 would be a disaster for California and AB 32 foes are slick – and predictable. Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who signed the law in 2006, is defending AB 32 at every opportunity.

We’ll know if the measure qualifies for the ballot by the end of June; if it does, the campaign could shape up as the environmental battle of the year.

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8 Comments

  1. Steve - March 24, 2010

    This is predictable. The people that accept the science and care enough about future generations must stand firm.

  2. Stephen Cataldo - March 24, 2010

    My recommendation: if a for-the-money-only signature gatherer is collecting to suspend AB 32, politely let them know that you won’t sign any of their petitions. Also, what’s a good catch-phrase summary I can tell my friends?

  3. Ed - March 26, 2010

    Stephen:
    How about: “They think we’re all morons.”
    Maybe it’s always been this way, but it seems lately that our Leaders aren’t working for what they think is right, or will work, but what will make their opponent look bad. They do this because it works. And it works because they’ve concluded we’re all morons. And since it works, we must be.
    I’d suggest minimizing the environmental benefits of AB32. Opponents have usually framed the argument as an environment-versus-jobs issue. So call it a way to create lots of permanent jobs which, as research proceeds and technology improves, will only increase in number. This is a jobs bill that happens to benefit the environment. Opponents are in favor of jobs that only benefit them. AB32 is about jobs and an environment that benefit all Californians.

  4. dlmchale - March 29, 2010

    Alas, as rude as this seems: “there are no jobs on a dead planet”. How many days was the mean ppm above 390ppm for an annual average of 387ppm, this year? The rumble about Mann’s ‘tree rings’ aside; Keeling’s study is now NOAA’s study and the learned science can debate the calibration of the instrumentation but it still is far away from 350ppm. When the experts in the field of Biology publish their peer reviewed studies; and tell us major species die off at above 395ppm is {possible} not to be ruled out-when did Homo Sapien Sapiens become ‘Teflon coated’. This will not change dollars for votes because it never has-then again dollars for votes will not change the peer reviewed studies; but there is that black marker to redact with.

  5. shinetiger - April 10, 2010

    Nice. From a marketing perspective, this is exactly the way to go. Rephrase to show positives – how this bill has multiple benefits, ones that would especially appeal to the prospect signer. Hence, don’t sign.

  6. DoSomeResearchPls - April 12, 2010

    [Ed. note: This comment was deleted due to incoherence – AB32 cannot both be easy to comply with and also have a devastating effect on business, yet you’ve claimed both in the space of two sentences. Better review those talking points.]

  7. Dan - April 19, 2010

    Climate skeptics and the backers of the move to repeal AB 32 need to be confronted by the fact that Climate Change/Global Warming is a scientific fact.
    If you have ever flown in an airplane,
    whether you knew it or not, you have depended on the Bernoulli effect that provides uplift and prevents the airplane from crashing.
    Climate change/global warning rests on the greenhouse effect which is as established as the Bernoulli effect. Spectragraphs of Greenhouse Gases show the light absorbed that makes these gasses warmer. In addition to its distance from the sun, the earth would be warmer like Venus if there were more atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases and colder like Mars if there were less (see my blog the link to which is::
    http://NewWindsOfChange.com
    — look under the category “Basic Science” for my EcoNews article. Comments are welcome both on the site or here “especially in “reply”. Thank you!

  8. Dan - May 24, 2010

    Loan Mod,
    Thanks for your comment on myt blog http//NewWindsOfChange.com. How prevelant is the use of Opera> Any problems when using Inenet Explorer or Mozila Firefox.
    As to the future, I believe the future is ours to shape — not something we must accept as given. As I’ve said I’m a child of the 1960’s and we need to: “Dare o struggle — Dare to win.” If we believe the future is “winnable” we must find the wining combination to win for all humanity. What are your thought on this? I suspect from, what you’ve written, you are more of a fatalist. How would you characterize your position? Thanks! Looking forward to your reply.