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Update on California Propositions 26 and 23

By now most everyone paying attention to climate change knows that Californians rallied to hand Proposition 23 a smashing defeat. As a result, the state’s landmark greenhouse gas control law, AB32, will not be suspended.

Many of you may also know that Proposition 26 passed, which isn’t such good news from an environmental point of view, as I pointed out before the election. Mainly the proposition’s passage means that a wide range of new fees (such as, for example, a fee on oil companies to cover possible environmental harm from spills) will be classified as taxes, requiring a two-thirds vote in the state legislature (which is nearly impossible to come by). This is bad news for the environment, and for the state’s finances in general.

However, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Proposition 26 isn’t going to get in the way of controlling greenhouse gas emissions in California. AB32 was passed into law in 2006, and so easily pre-dates the period covered by Proposition 26 (it only looks back to January 2010). Rather than paraphrase, I’ll simply point you to this good summary by Robert Cruickshank.

The bottom line: despite some speculation to the contrary, the passage of Proposition 26 doesn’t appear likely to have a negative impact on California’s cap and trade system, nor any of AB32’s other landmark controls such as the low carbon fuel standard. Watch for implementation to start up on schedule in 2012.

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