By Tommy Hough
A Green Corps veteran and recent University of San Diego law school graduate, our guest Andrew Adams is an organizer with the San Diego and Imperial counties chapter of the Sierra Club. While at USD, Andrew was involved with the school's Environmental Law Society and was one of the founding members and editors of the San Diego Journal of Climate and Energy Law.
One of the most important propositions on the 2010 California general election ballot, and one which could have the most far-reaching effects on how California and the nation move forward in combating global climate change, is Proposition 23.
Primarily bankrolled by Texas oil companies Tesoro and Valero, along with oil industrialists and Tea Party-training backers David and Charles Koch of Koch Industries, Proposition 23 is intended to delay implementation of AB 32, i.e. California's landmark Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. Passed with bipartisan support and signed into law by Gov. Schwarzenegger, AB 32 is set to take effect in 2012 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in California to 1990 levels by 2020 using a cap-and-trade system, and establish a timetable to bring California into near compliance with the provisions of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.
Proposition 23's primary sponsor is Assemblymember Daniel Logue (R-Chico) who, in a curious abdication of leadership, told the Marysville Appeal-Democrat, "This has been the blind leading the blind, political correctness that has collapsed the economy in California. California already has the fifth-cleanest air in the country, so why are we doing this when no one else is?"
Proposition 23's other key sponsors include Ted Costa of the Sacramento-based conservative political action group People's Advocate, Congressman Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks), and State Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, last seen running a distant second in the California GOP gubernatorial primary.
Arguments submitted to the Secretary of State's office in favor of Prop. 23 say the measure would only "suspend" the implementation of the clean energy law until unemployment levels in California decrease to less than 5.5 percent for one year – although the connection between unemployment and cleaning California's air were not made at all clear.
Treehuggers International placed calls to both Tesoro and Valero in order to clarify this connection, but so far we have not received a response.
Lawmakers and observers have also noted the 5.5 percent unemployment figure is grotesquely unrealistic, given the state of the economy and the Golden State's current unemployment rate exceeding 12 percent. Gov. Schwarzenegger, in particular, is defiantly bucking his party's support and advocacy for Prop. 23, decrying the wording of the proposition as a "cynical" ploy to delay environmental regulations indefinitely on the backs of the state's unemployed, by creating a phony connection between jobs and clean air.
In leveling his criticism, Schwarzenegger also called out Tesoro and Valero as two of the state's most notorious polluters, and angrily referred to their "self-serving greed" in conjunction with Koch Industries. It is no irony this initiative, bankrolled by mammoth, fossil fuel-based industrial forces which have significant oil and refining interests in California, comes at a time when the state stands to benefit from a myriad of green jobs unique to the region, from solar to geothermal to wind.
In addition to detailing the Sierra Club's fight against Prop. 23 as part of a coalition of activist groups and grassroots organizations, Andrew also talks about the "Trojan Horse" proposition of Proposition 26, which is not only bankrolled by many of the same oil industry and right-wing activists behind Prop. 23, but is running interference on Prop. 23's flank.
By requiring a two-thirds majority in order to enable spending, Proposition 26 seeks to cut off funding for the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 by throwing the state legislature into further budget chaos by letting corporations and polluters off the hook for industrial or toxic accidents, like an oil spill, and shifting financial responsibility of a clean-up from those responsible to the taxpayers. How honorable.
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Photos by Patrick Lammin and Matt Jalbert
A San Diego County planning commissioner and former radio host and media personality, Tommy Hough works as an environmental consultant and communications professional, and is a California Democratic Party delegate and the co-founder and former president of San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action.