The Next Battle Front for AB 32

California’s Proposition 23 has failed at the polls, so now either the “second Industrial Revolution” may proceed or it’s the end of free enterprise as we know it, or we simply move on to the next front in the assault on California’s emerging carbon regulations.

(Photo: Craig Miller)

The $40 million fight over Prop 23 presented two opposing themes: (a) AB 32 will wreck the economy, or (b) AB 32 will save the economy. Both visions for California’s climate law were hyperbolic. It would be fascinating to be able to tap into some parallel universe where it did pass, just to see what would really happen. More than likely some middle ground would prevail, as it will now, in this Universe.

Funny thing is, when California lawmakers passed the Global Warming Solutions Act in 2006, it was never intended to be a jobs program. But by Election Day 2010, it had been transformed into one by the alchemy of campaign rhetoric. Think tanks such as Berkeley-based Next 10 rolled out studies to document how California’s environmental leadership had produced hundreds of thousands of jobs. Tech investors pointed to the impressive share of venture capital flowing into “clean tech.” Outgoing governor Arnold Schwarzenegger made AB 32 a tent pole of his legacy. In an October media call, Alan Salzman, CEO of the California-based VantagePoint Venture Partners said we’re on the cusp of “a second industrial revolution,” that California could well lead the way in clean tech, if it seized the moment.

And it worked. AB 32 will stand, for now, headed for full implementation in two years with all the trimmings, including a statewide, if not regional cap-and-trade program; an actual “price on carbon,” for the first time in the West.

But this was the battle, not the war. Carbon regulation is under attack far and wide. Climate legislation remains stalled in Washington (Ryan Lizza’s piece for The New Yorker is a must-read). In this morning’s press conference, President Obama seemed almost to bury prospects for a national cap-and-trade program. “Cap-and-trade was only a means to an end,” he told reporters. “I’ll be looking for other means to address this problem.”

In a few weeks, negotiators will gather in Cancun for another round of UN climate talks. Some believe this round will be the last of its kind, a final collapse of the UN “framework,” as it’s been known.

In California, the next battle may already be here, in form of Prop 26, which appears to have passed with a margin of about 53-47%. With its requirement of a two-thirds vote to impose “certain” government fees, it could pose a more permanent threat to the full implementation of environmental measures like AB 32. Those fees purportedly include “those that address adverse impacts on society or the environment, caused by the fee-payer’s business.” Sounds a lot like the permits that companies would have to buy, to balance their carbon emissions.

But Nichols, still feeling the afterglow from the Prop 23 defeat party, asserted in an email to Climate Watch this morning that:

“Prop 26 does not impair the scoping plan adopted in 2008 or any regulations developed under that plan. AB32 is on track, with renewed vigor thanks to the resounding defeat of Prop 23 by the voters.”

Nonetheless, regulators may want to gird for the next skirmish.

The Next Battle Front for AB 32 3 November,2010Craig Miller

3 thoughts on “The Next Battle Front for AB 32”

  1. We have just witnessed one of the most effective brainwashing jobs on a major population since.Goebbels and Hitler mesmerized the German nation with Jew-hate.

    AB 32 is a disaster on wheels for California. It is based on a myth. How long can green jobs last when they are founded on a myth?

    The AB 32 fleecers, the enviro-marxist fleecers, the green-gadget fleecers, and the cap and trade fleecers are set to steal the peoples’ wealth and wages with higher taxes, higher costs for electric power and transportation fuel, higher costs for everything related to carbon (that is nearly everything), massive job losses, and CARB tyranny interjected into their lives unlike anything ever experienced in the USA (but see the literature of Eastern Europe during the cold war for a preview, or George Orwell’s 1984.

    Whoever directed the attack on Proposition 23, I bow to him as one more skilled and with greater cunning than Dr. Goebbels, the Nazi Minister of Propaganda. Of course having a bundle of cash exceeding the pro-Prop 23 faction by a factor of 3 or more did help.

  2. Poor, dumb ol’ California–out on a limb by itself trying to stop climate change (and stifling its economy even more) while the rest of the world abandons this fool’s errand. Well, Texas and Nevada are cheering cause that’s where formerly California businesses are headed. And how will Jerry-the-Job-Killer pay all those public employees who got him elected with the tax base fleeing the state? Stay tuned for the sorry conclusion.

  3. I hope that the regulators “gird for the next skirmish”. and that they can eke out another win against the likes of Valero Energy and the Koch Brothers – the oil industry funders for Prop 23. The ‘regulators’ your article subtly belittles are acting on the public’s behalf to implement the law, for the common good of we the people, as directed by the legislature and governor that we elect.

    Not sure if you intend the post to be neutral – IMHO the tone is clearly on the corporate oil industry side of this ‘skirmish’. Immensely wealthy oil and coal companies have been funding a very effective disinformation PR campaign since at least the mid 90’s to delay any action on climate change for fear that it would eat into their billions of dollars of profit. It sounds like a conspiracy theory. I’m afraid it’s reality. They have succedded in sowing enough doubt in our fellow citizens with slick PR, and in buying politicians, and we continue to fail to address the damage we are doing to future generations by polluting the atmosphere w greenhouse gases. .

    I’m not accusing the gentleman commenting here or the site of any conspriacy, or of wanting to do any harm to anyone or to the planet. I think you have been lied to, on purpose, to downplay the overwhelming evidence of warming, and of the major risks of doing nothing. I would ask everyone interested in this issue to be a true ‘skeptic’ – and be skeptical of your own beliefs on the issue. Question your assumptions, check the weight of evidence, from all quarters. Listen carefully to the best arguments against your own case, and consider their merit. Nobody unwilling to inspect their own beliefs against the evidence, and revise their hypothesis accordingly, can claim the title of skeptic. Unless you are a skeptic of the scientific method, of credible, evidence based decision making. Because the evidence is in, it is overwhelming, in fact it is truly frightening to literally thousands of the world’s best scientists. see for clear summary of the key issues.

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Craig Miller

Craig is a former KQED Science editor, specializing in weather, climate, water & energy issues, with a little seismology thrown in just to shake things up. Prior to that, 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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