Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Just when you thought it was safe to breathe in California...

In California there have been magnificent strides to protect our environment, ecology and the quality of our air and water. Organizations such as Save the Bay, Californian's Against Waste, FlexYourPower, and even the California State Government's Air Resources Board have worked tirelessly on trying to promote sustainability and better practices for a healthier and more eco-friendly way of living.

One of the largest successes of these efforts was AB32 California’s Climate Change legislation. The bill was origionally introduced by Assembly Member Pavley and coauthored by Assembly Members Chan and Laird and Senator Joe Simitian. By the end of the legislative process of edits and changes, the bill was championed (or co-opted) by Speaker Fabian Nunez and eventually signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006. The bill itself sets goals and benchmarks for greenhouse gas emissions in California and gives the methodology to meet those marks.

AB 32 requires the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to develop regulations and market mechanisms that will ultimately reduce California's greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020. Mandatory caps will begin in 2012 for significant sources and ratchet down to meet the 2020 goals.

The bill signing was a momentus occasion in California history.

The passage was also internationally significant and the Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, whom the Governor met with during his 2005 trade mission to Japan and who is a strong supporter of the Kyoto Protocol, sent a letter in support of the legislation.

"I would like to commend you, Gov. Schwarzenegger, and [the] people of California for taking a leadership role in protecting the earth's environment," wrote Prime Minister Koizumi. At the Prime Minister's request, the letter, attached, was read by the Japanese counsel general.

Last week Gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman penned an Op-Ed in the San Jose Mercury News entitled "To create jobs, curb environmental regulation" Here is a small selection from the poorly written editorial;

So far, state leaders have failed us miserably. In fact, they've passed legislation that by some estimates will cost us more than one million jobs. That's on top of the 950,000 jobs we've lost in the past two years.....

Within months, Sacramento will be handing down new rules to implement AB32, the far-reaching law to restrict greenhouse gas emissions. Signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006, AB32 may have been well intentioned. But it is wrong for these challenging times.

With this ongoing economic crisis, the governor has the ability to issue an executive order putting a moratorium on most AB32-related rules. I urge him to do so. And if he does not, I will issue that order on my first day as governor.

We first must get our economy back on track. In January, the first AB32 mandates take effect and will lead to higher energy costs at a time when we can least afford them. They will discourage job creation and could kill any recovery.

Meg fails to cite her sources for these so called "facts" that AB32 will prevent job and business growth, she seems to try and make a link between the current lack-luster economy and attempts to protect the environment. She fails to mention the green-collar economy and the job creation that will come as a result of AB32's implementation in 2011 and the fact that there is attached legislation and programs in place to attempt to bolster sectors where job creation. When conservatives tout the free market and how it is cyclical and how companies and industries rise and fall and new ones replace them, it always makes me confused when they also say that instituting protections for the future environment will kill them, ignoring the fact that when similar regulations were instituted in the past that other companies and industries rise surrounding those protections. For example, when the Sulfur Dioxide regulations were put in place, the industry leaders cried "it will destroy the economy" same for regulations on child-labor. If the industries that pollute or create products that fill the waste stream and destroy the environment do not take responsibility for their effects on the environment it is the place of the government to attempt to mitigate and manage the industry so they don't destroy their surrounding environment. We must remember that the business of business is business; the only real goal of companies is to create profit, not to protect the environment or the population. As UC Berkley's Environmental Legal Blog points out;

Whitman’s op ed is long on rhetoric and short on rationale, arguing simply that environmental regulations stymie economic growth. The op ed doesn’t mince words: she says she’ll suspend AB 32 the day she becomes Governor if Schwarzenegger doesn’t do so first.

What makes this situation even more interesting is the California Jobs Initiative, a group wanting to repeal AB32 has been working towards and has successfully gotten the measure on the ballot. Environmental leaders will be rallying today at pier 7 at 12 pm, with San Francisco Mayor / Lieutenant Gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom giving this anti-prop32 group a tongue lashing.

According to the mayor’s schedule, Newsom and “environmental leaders” will highlight the “environmental and economic impact of efforts to repeal California’s landmark clean energy and air standards.

This organization is apparently backed by the oil-industry. The following is from the LA Times:

An oil industry measure to postpone enforcement of California’s 2006 global warming law qualified for the November ballot Tuesday, setting up what promises to be a nationally watched struggle over the future of renewable energy.
The initiative, launched six months ago by Texas oil giants Valero Energy Inc. and Tesoro Corp., comes as the oil industry has fallen under intense scrutiny in the wake of the gulf oil spill disaster...

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger lashed back, saying, “This initiative sponsored by greedy Texas oil companies would cripple California’s fastest-growing economic sector, reverse our renewable energy policy and decimate our environmental progress for the benefit of these oil companies’ profit margins."

The group's facebook page already has 1,748 members, but we will see how far that gets them. It is rather upsetting how Big Energy and Big Oil are pushing political motives on the voters and labeling it so falsely. I hope that the ballot initiative goes up in smoke like the "Taxpayers Right to Vote Act."

What really comes as no surprise to me that Meg and the Big Oil are in the same bed politically, and this is just another reason I hope her Gubernatorial (and eventual Presidential) aspirations fall to ash in her hands.