Last week, the voters of California took to the polls and were asked about whether they would (or would not) support keeping the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 intact.
Otherwise known as AB 32, the piece of legislation from 2006 requires greenhouse emission levels in the California be cut by 2020 with gradual progress slated to begin in 2012. With an end goal of 1990’s greenhouse totals and the approval of a statewide greenhouse gas emissions limit, the plan would involve making at least a 15 percent cut from where the state is at today in 2010.
According to the staff of the Air Resources board of the California Environmental Protection Agency, the total greenhouse gas emissions level in California in 1990 was approximately 427 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, and was recommended as the emissions limit for 2020.
This November, voters were introduced to Proposition 23 – a California ballot proposition that, if passed, would have suspended AB 32 until state unemployment rates dropped below 5.5 percent for a full year. It proposed the suspension of comprehensive greenhouse-gas-reduction programs designed to increase renewable energy and cleaner fuel requirements, and mandatory emissions reporting and fee requirements for major emissions sources such as power plants and oil refineries.
The proposition – misleadingly branded as the “California Jobs Initiative” – was backed by several large oil and chemical companies including Valero and Koch Industries and Tesoro – the Texas-based, 24th-largest corporate producer of air pollution in the United States.
Proposition 23 went on to be defeated by a 21 percent margin in the recent elections, and supporters of AB 32 have gone on to form groups to promote a clean energy economy for California – something we can all be happy about.