California Ballot on Global Warming Solutions

Citizens argue that generating jobs shouldn't mean derailing climate action.
55 SOL california climate

Quote from climate scientist Wallace Broecker at the Climate Change in California exhibit, Academy of Sciences, San Francisco.

Photo by Lisa Brewster

Businesses, environmental groups, and local governments in California are confronting big oil companies in a November election battle over the state’s carbon cap-and-trade law.

The Global Warming Solutions Act, or AB32, was heralded as a breakthrough when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed it into law in 2006. The law requires a reduction of the state’s ­greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. As a result, California has set limits on greenhouse gas emissions from oil refineries and other industries and passed regulations to promote more fuel-efficient cars. Supporters say the law is steering the state’s energy markets toward renewable sources.

Proposition 23 would suspend AB32 until unemployment in the state drops to 5.5 percent for at least a year. California’s unemployment rate is currently over 12 percent.

The California Jobs Initiative Committee, largely backed by Texas-based oil companies Tesoro and Valero Energy, has raised $3.1 million to promote Proposition 23. Supporters of AB32 have mounted a fight-back campaign, raised more than $2 million, and gathered endorsements from sources as varied as Google, AARP, and the Environmental Defense Fund.

So far, California voters aren’t buying the oil companies’ offensive. A July Field Poll showed that 48 percent of voters oppose Proposition 23, versus 36 percent who support it.

—Lynsi Burton wrote this article for A Resilient Community, the Fall 2010 issue of YES! Magazine. Lynsi is a newspaper reporter in Bremerton, Wash.


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