California Ballot Initiative Aims to Block Tougher Emissions Standards

Energy industry money is fueling a campaign currently underway in California to prevent the state’s landmark AB32 emissions standards from taking effect as planned. With the most aggressive pieces of the legislation scheduled to kick in in 2012, a new bill called the California Jobs Initiative would block their implementation until the state unemployment rate drops below 5.5 percent—an annual level seen only six times in the last 30 years.

Opponents of AB32 say that the stricter emissions standards are coming at the wrong time, with the unemployment rate currently hovering above 12 percent. But many question the true motives of the movement behind the initiative, which receives most of its funding from oil companies. According to EE News, $500,000 of the money spent gathering signatures to get the so-called “Jobs Initiative” on the ballot comes from Valero Energy Corporation, with at least an additional $350,000 coming from other major energy firms—most of which are based out of state.

Opponents of the new emissions standards point to a letter written by California Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor, who cited flaws in the state’s calculations when it predicted that AB32 would create 120,000 jobs statewide. Taylor goes on to forecast that the law will result in “near term job losses,” but makes no specific predictions or calculations about its specific economic impact.

Also known as the Global Warming Solutions Act, AB32 was signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger back in 2006, with the goal of reducing California’s greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. In the past, California’s aggressive environmental standards may have acted as catalysts for stricter national standards—the best example being 2007′s Corporate Average Fuel Economy overhaul, which followed a lengthy court battle over similar increases in the Golden State. Fearing that they would have to produce a separate line of cars for the California market, carmakers eventually got on board for a nationwide increase in fuel economy standards.

The energy industry may anticipate a similar impact from AB32, which precedes a much-heralded effort by congressional Democrats to pass a national cap-and-trade bill in Washington. If opponents are successful in blocking the standards at the ballot box in November, it would likely increase pressure on national lawmakers to abandon cap-and-trade indefinitely—or at least until the economy recovers.


  • Old Man Crowder

    Good heavens, what are they thinking?!! We wouldn’t want to care about the environment or anything else, for that matter, while the economy is in the crapper!

    Since when does the economy trump all else?

    The last sentence of the 3rd paragraph says it all for me. “…makes no specific predictions or calculations”.

    It sounds like the arguments I have with my 5 year old.

    California Parent: “We’re introducing stricter emissions standards.”

    Spoiled Public Child: “NOOOO!! That’s bad! That’ll increase unemployment and ruin the economy!”

    CP: “Really? How so and by how much?”

    SPC: “I don’t know. It just will. Billy McEnergy Company says it will, so it must be true.”

    Great logic.

  • Charles

    If I recall correctly, George W. Bush referred to something called “CO2 Intensity”. “CO2 Intensity” is CO2 emissions per GDP. If you believe in global warming, dividing CO2 or any other greenhouse gas by some economic indicator makes as much sense as dividing death by your last bank balance.

    Because I do believe the scientists that say we must reduce greenhouse gases to mitigate climate change, I think we need to learn how to live with whatever costs are involved with reducing the worlds greenhouse gases. Part of the cost is going to be negotiating fair trade treaties that allow for tariffs that encourage lower greenhouse gas production for each unit of production. Another part of the cost is going to be using solar and wind energy. A good byproduct will be more local production of all sorts of goods.

  • AP

    Besides “environmental sustainability,” there is also “economic sustainability.”

    California is in a world of hurt economically, and by driving up the cost of their locally sold cars to “solve” a global problem, they are putting that much more weight on their citizens’ shoulders.

    California’s biggest problem may soon be that its residents, seeing the resulting debt of California’s social programs that address every problem known to man, can simply move out of the state to avoid the tax hikes and cuts in services that must come.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think we should reduce our usage of petroleum fuels, for many reasons. But California’s inability to manage its budget is taking away its ability to “make a political statement,” because their taxpayers can’t afford it.

    At some point they have to decide which programs are the most important. They can’t all be “the most important.”

  • Fred Linn

    ——-” At some point they have to decide which programs are the most important. They can’t all be “the most important.” “——

    An asthmatic in an acute attack who can’t breathe will have no hesitation at all deciding what is most important.

    Hold your breathe a few minutes and then tell me if you think breathing is not important.

    And don’t tell me that you don’t have asthma so it doesn’t matter to you. Anyone can get asthma at anytime. And the number of people who have new and recurring asthma attacks is growing everyday.

    Don’t bother to tell me I don’t know what I am talking about. I’m a respiratory therapist.

  • Ethos

    In my eyes global warming is a hoax. We take isolated areas in the world and say that the entire globe is warming because of those isolated areas. even with that said, I do believe that we need to be better stewards of the planet we have. natural resources are limited and the air quality in our major cities are getting worse by the day.

    Getting individuals out of their cars by raising gas prices and emission standards will only kill the economic infrastructure we have in place in this state (California). The public transportation in Los Angeles cost me more ($60 a day on metro) than driving my 2003 silverado.

    Being that I want to do my part, I have started using a product that has taken my hydrocarbon emmisions from 6 parts per million to 1 part per million (that is an 80% decrease in pollution out of my tail pipe), also the product comes with an oil treatment that now I only have to change my oil every 9,000 miles instead of every 3,000 mile (that is now 2/3 less oil I use on an annual basis).

    I just love how we have a chance to lower emissions and use less oil by at least 30% without killing our way of life and all we want to do pass laws to force this on others.

  • Ethos

    In my eyes global warming is a hoax. We take isolated areas in the world and say that the entire globe is warming because of those isolated areas. even with that said, I do believe that we need to be better stewards of the planet we have. natural resources are limited and the air quality in our major cities are getting worse by the day.

    Getting individuals out of their cars by raising gas prices and emission standards will only kill the economic infrastructure we have in place in this state (California). The public transportation in Los Angeles cost me more ($60 a day on metro) than driving my 2003 silverado.

    Being that I want to do my part, I have started using a product that has taken my hydrocarbon emmisions from 6 parts per million to 1 part per million (that is an 80% decrease in pollution out of my tail pipe), also the product comes with an oil treatment that now I only have to change my oil every 9,000 miles instead of every 3,000 mile (that is now 2/3 less oil I use on an annual basis).

    I just love how we have a chance to lower emissions and use less oil by at least 30% without killing our way of life and all we want to do pass laws to force this on others.

  • Ethos

    In my eyes global warming is a hoax. We take isolated areas in the world and say that the entire globe is warming because of those isolated areas. even with that said, I do believe that we need to be better stewards of the planet we have. natural resources are limited and the air quality in our major cities are getting worse by the day.

    Getting individuals out of their cars by raising gas prices and emission standards will only kill the economic infrastructure we have in place in this state (California). The public transportation in Los Angeles cost me more ($60 a day on metro) than driving my 2003 silverado.

    Being that I want to do my part, I have started using a product that has taken my hydrocarbon emmisions from 6 parts per million to 1 part per million (that is an 80% decrease in pollution out of my tail pipe), also the product comes with an oil treatment that now I only have to change my oil every 9,000 miles instead of every 3,000 mile (that is now 2/3 less oil I use on an annual basis).

    I just love how we have a chance to lower emissions and use less oil by at least 30% without killing our way of life and all we want to do pass laws to force this on others.