Already sent in your mail-in ballot? Then I guess you’ve already made your voting decisions. But for the rest of us, Molly and I will be looking at how your votes in November will affect environmental issues in California and beyond. To that end, I’m going to start by writing about by far the most talked-about proposition: Prop 23.
In case you don’t quite know what Prop 23 is yet and have been twitching nervously whenever someone mentions the ballot measure, here’s a quick explanation to help you participate in conversations at CicLAvia and 10/10/10 events this weekend. Prop 23 would suspend the landmark California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32) — the Act that committed the state to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 — until the unemployment rate falls to 5.5 percent or below for a full year.
Or to put it more succinctly, Prop 23 would basically do away with AB 32. Since AB 32 has a deadline, achieving its goals requires taking action NOW and continuing to take action until 2020 — with no time for dillydallying while the unemployment rate goes up.
The pro Prop 23 side — backed by two Texas oil companies Valero and Tesoro as well as with contributions from Koch Industries — argues that the measure would help save jobs. The anti Prop 23 side — which NY Times describes as a wide coalition of “mainstream environmentalists, venture capitalists, labor unions, tech chieftains and even some Republicans” — argues that new green jobs will continue to be created by AB 32.
Who’s to be believed? I agree with environmental justice activist and author of Green Collar Economy Van Jones, who says companies behind the companies funding Prop 23 are unlikely to have Californians’ best interests in mind (via GOOD):
I think California voters are very sophisticated, and I don’t think any of them think that the people who run Koch Industries wake up in the morning thinking “How can Californians have better jobs?” That is not who these people are.
Governor Schwarzenegger voiced a similar opinion last month, according to KQED’s Climate Watch. At the Commonwealth Club in Santa Clara, Schwarzenegger said:
Does anyone really believe that these companies, out of their black-oil hearts are really spending millions and millions of dollars to protect jobs? It’s not about jobs at all. It’s about their ability to pollute and thus protect their profits.
Schwarzenegger also dedicated his latest weekly YouTube broadcast to big upping AB 32, pointing out that the law’s helped attract clean tech companies, jobs, and investments — all of which would “come to a grinding halt” should AB 32 get suspended. Schwarzenegger also points out that AB 32 addresses everything from health problems to climate change concerns to national security issues.
How will you be voting on Prop 23?
- No on 23: LA Times, SF Chronicle, SF Bay Guardian, San Jose Mercury News, Sacramento Bee
- Environmental groups: Sierra Club California – No on 23, California League of Conservation Voters – No on 23
- Watch the Prop 23 campaign ads on both sides of the issue
- Steve Lopez at LA Times: Fighting Prop. 23 one phone call at a time
Photo by Colin/Flickr