Backers of a voter initiative that would suspend California’s landmark climate law (AB 32) have delayed the launch of their signature-gathering campaign, raising questions about whether their proposal will qualify for the state ballot in November. The promoters of the ballot measure – Republican Assemblyman Dan Logue, Congressman Tom McClintock (R-CA), and taxpayer association director Ted Costa – also face increased media scrutiny of the financial interests of industries that would benefit from a suspension of the climate law, and their underlying premise that greenhouse gas regulations will lead to job losses.
The Logue camp suffered a setback earlier this month when California Attorney General Jerry Brown issued a summary of the ballot proposition as required by state election procedures. Rather than calling it the “California Jobs Initiative” as Logue had submitted, Brown’s office more accurately described it this way:
> “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.”
That’s what Logue would have to get 433,000 California voters to sign this spring in order to qualify for the November ballot. Notwithstanding the efforts of paid signature-gatherers at shopping centers and other public places, some voters – if they read the text – will think twice before joining such a campaign. Logue’s group is reportedly considering a lawsuit to get different wording, or it may try to submit entirely new language with the same intent.
If Logue and his backers qualify their anti-AB32 measure for the ballot, a bigger battle would ensue during election season. Many mainstream businesses have voiced their support for continued implementation of AB 32. There is also a growing body of evidence that California’s strong environmental laws are creating jobs and attracting investment to the state:
* California is the leading state in clean energy businesses (10,209), clean energy jobs (125,390) and clean energy venture capital funding ($6.6 billion for 2006-2008), according to the Pew Charitable Trusts (pdf).
* Next Ten reports that California green jobs increased by 36% from 1995-2008 while total jobs expanded only 13% during the same period (pdf). While the economy slowed between 2007-2008, total employment fell 1%, but green jobs grew by 5%.
* California’s energy efficiency policies during the past 35 years have saved consumers $56 billion while creating 1.5 million jobs, reports the University of California at Berkeley, Center for Energy, Resources, and Economic Sustainability (pdf).
A full debate about AB 32 in California may actually turn into an opportunity to solidify the green economy in the state. With federal climate legislation stalled in Washington, the outcome of this discussion will have national implications.