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Oil industry attacks California Greenhouse Gas legislation

By Stephanie Dearing     Jul 29, 2010 in Environment
California put greenhouse gas legislation into place in 2006, aiming to cut greenhouse gas emissions 1990 levels by the year 2020. The law will not be in effect until 2012, but naysayers are hoping to defeat the legislation in this fall's election.
California's legislation is under fire from California's industrial barons, most notably the oil industry, who believe the new requirements to curb emissions would cost them profits. Called the Yes on Prop 23, proponents have taken the proposed legislation to court in an attempt to have the wording of the ballot changed, reported the LA Times.
On Tuesday, the LA Times revealed the key proponents of Yes on Prop 23 are oil industries. In particular, two Texas-based companies have given the most funding to fighting the greenhouse gas legislation, commonly known as AB 32.
AB 32 was passed in 2006, intending, says the LA Times, to move California into the vanguard of the green economy. LA Times journalist, Michael Hiltzik explains, saying "AB 32 requires state officials to establish a statewide cap on emissions of greenhouse gases — principally carbon dioxide, a major contributor to climate change and smog. A few years ago, the California Air Resources Board set that limit, to be reached in 2020, at 427 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (a common environmental metric). That's the level emitted statewide in 1990. That will require a reduction of about 15% from today's emissions, the board says."
But a growing grass-roots movement in California might trump the well-endowed oil companies. Fran Taylor, writing for SF Streetsblog Wednesday said a newly formed coalition, Communities United Against the Dirty Energy Proposition, is a strong organization. 60 different groups have joined the coalition so far. The coalition received a huge boost on Tuesday, reported the Miami Herald, with the donation of $5 million from Thomas Steyer. Steyer is a managing director of investment company Hellman & Friedman.
In what is surely the worst public relations move ever, the oil giants are insisting on pushing their legislation roll-back against the growing swell of voices clamouring to keep the legislation. Communities United Against the Dirty Energy Proposition writes "If we roll back our clean energy standards, California would lose hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in investments to other states. According to California’s nonpartisan State Legislative Analyst’s Office, rolling back AB 32 could “dampen additional investments in clean energy technologies or in so-called ‘green jobs’ by private firms, thereby resulting in less economic activity.”
Clean energy businesses and technologies are exceptional bright spots in our recovering economy. AB 32 has put California in a unique position to lead the clean energy and technology market, both in the United States and abroad. Since 2005, California green jobs have grown 10 times faster than the statewide average. California’s clean technology sector received $2.1 billion in investment capital in 2009 - more than five times the investment in our nearest competitor, Massachusetts. According to a new report from the California Employment Development Department, 500,000 employees work in clean technology or green jobs in California."
That view is disputed by proponents of Prop 23, who say millions of jobs will be lost if AB 32 is not defeated. Yes on 23 called the legislation "... a new $60 billion energy tax that will kill jobs in California. It’s being implemented by legions of bureaucrats and a huge bureaucracy that admit it will do virtually nothing to solve global warming. Here’s the price tag we’re being asked to pay for an ill-conceived, flawed and ineffective proposal: Over 1.1 million lost jobs (Sacramento State University Economist); Up to 60 percent higher retail electricity rates (Southern California Public Power authority); 8 percent increase in natural gas costs (CARB); $3.7 billion in higher gasoline and diesel costs (Sierra Research); Possible $143 billion cap and trade auction tax to offset AB 32’s higher energy prices and job losses (CARB Economic Allocation and Advisory Committee)." Jon Coupal, President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association in California is spearheading proposition 23.
The California Air Resources Board has until January 1, 2011 to establish mechanisms for greenhouse gas reductions. Those rules will be in effect January 1, 2012. AB 32 is ambitious, and intends to reduce emissions a further 80% below 1990 levels after 2020.
According to Ballotpedia, more than 90 propositions were submitted for inclusion in California's November elections. Only ten propositions have made it all the way through to the ballot. The general election is scheduled for November 2.
Governor Schwarzenegger will not be seeking re-election. Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency Wednesday because the annual budget is five weeks overdue, Reuters reported.
More about California greenhouse gas legislation, Proposition, Cut emissions, Greenhouse Gas, Global warming
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