Speaking on the third anniversary of the signing of California’s Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) in San Francisco yesterday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger gave a full-throated defense of the state’s landmark law that seeks to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. He also directly responded to Meg Whitman, former eBay CEO and now a Republican candidate in the race to succeed Schwarzenegger in 2010, who opened her campaign this week with a call for a moratorium on AB 32 rules.
Whitman launched her campaign on Sep. 22 with this broadside:
> We have unilaterally implemented too many over-reaching environmental regulations – laws that have left us at an economic disadvantage. …
> My bottom line is this: I love California’s environment. But I reject radical environmental policies that do little for the environment and devastate California’s economic future. …
> Liberal environmentalists may not like jobs or people, but California needs both.
At first, Schwarzenegger gently responded that he hoped Whitman would not find that her “campaign rhetoric” prevented her from embracing a sensible environmental policy. Then, like the fine actor he once was (and still is in politics), the governor delivered a memorable zinger:
> I’m sure she doesn’t want to be counted as one of those Republicans who would move us back to the Stone Age.
The pro-environment crowd of 700 at the Fairmont Hotel roared with approval.
It was refreshing to see the governor defend what may be his most important legacy: a path-breaking law that puts California in the heart of a new green economy. Schwarzenegger proudly ticked off some of the state’s recent achievements: tough new emission standards for cars, an executive order requiring utilities to generate 33% of their power from renewable sources by 2020, and the Million Solar Roofs program. He also mentioned $6 billion in venture capital investments in clean tech companies that had been made in California during the past three years.
Highlighting the economic benefits of his environmental agenda, the governor said, “The train has left the station. We are going full speed ahead.” Schwarzenegger’s green policies will get international exposure at a Governors’ Global Climate Summit he is hosting in Los Angeles next week.