The Escalating Conflict Over AB 32

Bearfight_blogCalifornia has had a climate change mitigation law on the books for more than three years now–but getting that law’s regulations fully in place is proving to be a tough slog.

Fans and mortal enemies of California’s Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) all exude certainty about what the carbon emissions-cutting law will do for–or to–the state’s economy. Lately the debate has escalated into full-scale PR warfare. Major battlefronts include:

– A signature campaign for a ballot initiative to suspend the law

– An online campaign to boycott oil companies funding the above

– Studies & surveys from both sides proclaiming their case

– A gubernatorial candidate who has vowed to suspend AB 32

This week both sides weighed in afresh.

The California branch of the National Federation of Independent Business today announced support of what proponents still call the “California Jobs Initiative,” even though the measure has been renamed by Attorney General Jerry Brown, who supports AB 32.

The measure would suspend most provisions of the climate law until the state’s official unemployment rate improves substantially from its current 12.5% level. NFIB statements say “the measure is headed for the November ballot” but only if proponents gather more than 400,000 required signatures.

John Kabateck, executive director of  NFIB/California said in a conference call with reporters today that his organization would help gather signatures to qualify the measure. He called the climate law “one more arrow in the quiver of damage and pain inflicted on small business right now.” In a companion news release, Kabatek ventured that full implementation of AB 32 would cost California more than a million jobs.

California’s non-partisan Legislative Analyst has concluded that while the exact job impact is hard to pin down, AB 32’s overall effect would be relatively minor compared to the state’s total economy.

Meanwhile, pro-AB 32 activists are circulating an online petition calling for a boycott of Valero and Tesoro, two Texas-based oil companies that are helping bankroll the suspension measure in California.

The NFIB announcement followed by one day the unveiling of a new poll showing support for AB-32 among California voters. The survey shows 58% of Californians “favor” the law either “strongly” (34%) or “somewhat.” One in four surveyed said they strongly opposed the measure. Sixty-four percent said they supported charging industry for excess emissions, while 31% opposed that. The poll was conducted in March by Field Research for Next 10, a public policy think tank that strongly supports AB 32.  Field polled about 500 voters for the survey, which has a margin of error of 4.5%.

Business is sharply divided over AB 32. The viewpoint of those wary of it is generally represented by the AB 32 Implementation Group. Other business leaders strongly support the law, including it’s cap-and-trade provisions. An outspoken example is Barry Cinnamon, CEO of Akeena Solar, who recently laid out his position for Alison van Diggelin, publisher of the Fresh Dialogues blog site.

In that conversation, Cinnamon skewered the “inane commentary” of  gubernatorial candidates calling for the undoing of AB 32. Republican candidate Meg Whitman has pledged to order a one-year “moratorium” on regulations under AB 32, on her “first day as governor,” calling the policy “wrong for these challenging times.”

The Escalating Conflict Over AB 32 7 April,2010Craig Miller

6 thoughts on “The Escalating Conflict Over AB 32”

  1. You forgot to mention that suspension of AB32 in the event of 12.5% unemployment is built into the original law. All the California Jobs Initiative does is force the state to honor the entire AB32 law.

    Arnold and the Demcrats could care less how many Californians are ruined broke busted by their economic misdeeds.

    Did the PV salesman pay you for the publicity?

    1. It would be helpful if you provided a citation for this. Reviewing the text of the original AB 32 as available on the Air Board’s website, I don’t see that provision. The closest thing I find is under Part 7: Misc. Provisions:
      “38599. (a)  In the event of extraordinary circumstances, catastrophic
      events, or threat of significant economic harm, the Governor may adjust
      the applicable deadlines for individual regulations, or for the state in the
      aggregate, to the earliest feasible date after that deadline.
      (b)  The adjustment period may not exceed one year unless the
      Governor makes an additional adjustment pursuant to subdivision (a).”
      Even if the Governor were to invoke this provision, the “adjustments” are capped at one year, which may be the basis for Whitman’s call for a “one-year moratorium.” I can find no automatic trigger in the law.
      And no, we do not accept any outside remuneration for anything we publish.

  2. The reason there is an “escalation” is that Texas oil companies are pouring one million into the campaign to kill the law.
    Some 89 percent of the funds for the initiative are from oil companies; 72 percent are from Texas.

    The NFIB opposed the legislation when it considered by the legislature. It doesn’t want to “suspend” the law. It wants to kill it.
    Apparently it is more interested in the job of Valero’s CEO, who just got a 46 percent increase raise and is now making 10 million. Instead in cleaning up our air, its rewarding its CEO.

  3. “…the measure has been renamed by Attorney General Jerry Brown, who supports AB 32.”

    FYI, its official name is:

    “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”

  4. If theres 12.5% unemployment. Theres many more who have stopped looking for work or are not reported. Those folks are not flying, traveling, and using little fuel at 3.19 a gallon.Many are just trying to hang on to their house and afford more expensive groceries in smaller packages ,health insurance, car insurance, increased registration, sales tax, drink tax, increased ticket fees for turning right on a red, house equity gone, and 75$ smog checks.

    Keep in mind that global warming is a “Theory”.The correlation of two things moving in the same direction does not prove causality. Mother nature did not cooperate and the computer models were way off as average temp has risen .5 degree last 100 years.No big deal.

    We, as Californians, dont need AB 32 in place to build solar panels and electric cars. Ab32 was drawn with the best intentions, but I believe it will be another regulatory nightmare,squeezing whatever spirit, and cash, is left in Californian business and Californians.If solar and going green are so good then people who can afford it will buy it without mandates.Lets build green companies based on free market demand not another law.

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Craig Miller

Craig is a KQED Science editor, specializing in weather, climate, water & energy issues, with a little seismology thrown in just to shake things up. Prior to his current position, he launched and led the station's award-winning multimedia project, Climate Watch. Craig is also an accomplished writer/producer of television documentaries, with a focus on natural resource issues.

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