Ballot measure blocking law cutting greenhouse gas emissions likely | TheUnion.com
Dave Moller
Senior Staff Writer
and The Associated Press

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Ballot measure blocking law cutting greenhouse gas emissions likely

A plan to block a law cutting state greenhouse gas emissions until the economy rebounds looks likely to make the Nov. 2 ballot.

Monday, members of the California Jobs Initiative Coalition turned in more than 800,000 signatures of registered voters to qualify – nearly twice the number needed.

The initiative was started by Assemblyman Dan Logue, R-Linda, who represents Nevada County in the Third Assembly District.

“We only needed 440,000” signatures Logue said. “People realize we need to protect and bring jobs to California. We’re going to give working families of California a break until we recover economically.”

If the California Jobs Initiative does qualify the ballot as expected, voters will be asked to consider putting the brakes on the nation’s most far-reaching global warming law. Oil companies have paid about $700,000 to fund the campaign.

The initiative would suspend stringent greenhouse gas emission standards set by legislators in AB32, a bill passed in 2006. The suspension would last until California unemployment levels dip to 5.5 percent and stay there for one full year.

The state jobless rate was at 12.6 percent in March; it hasn’t been at 5.5 percent since September 2007, according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger immediately blasted “greedy oil companies” for trying to set back his sweeping environmental policy through funding Logue’s initiative.

A number of business groups warned that regulations enacting the law would cost jobs and prompt billions of dollars in higher energy prices. John Kabateck, executive director of the National Federation of Business California, said that’s a cost businesses cannot shoulder as they struggle in a weak economy.

“While the goals of AB32 are admirable, clearly the implementation of this at this time … would be a death knell for many small businesses,” Kabateck said at a news conference.

Schwarzenegger vowed to fight the initiative if it qualifies for the ballot.

“We will do everything we can in this state to raise money, (bringing) stakeholders together,” the governor said.

California would continue to lead the nation with its strong environmental policy, the Republican governor said.

“California is 40 percent more energy efficient than the rest of the country,” he said. “Now greedy oil companies want to roll back that cut; they want us to depend on just oil.”

Valero, Tesoro funding the drive

Logue began the initiative drive in November after concluding that AB32 standards set to take effect in 2012 would cost jobs in the current economic climate.

The ballot initiative is largely being funded by Texas oil companies that oppose climate regulations in California and similar legislation moving through Congress. Valero Services Inc. has given $500,000, while Tesoro Cos. has given $275,000.

That has bothered environmentalists, utilities and green technology firms opposed to Logue’s initiative. They claim the campaign money shows oil companies are striving to topple California’s law and derail climate legislation in Congress, the Associated Press reported.

Logue has no problem with the oil firms’ donations. He recently told The Union that California’s petroleum industry provides plenty of jobs that he fears AB32 would reduce.

“This will define the jobs message in California for a decade to come,” Logue said about the initiative. “This is about small business taking a stand for jobs.”

The California Air Resources Board estimates the AB32 regulations would reduce the state’s fuel expenses $3.8 billion by 2020.

A study done by the dean of the business school at California State University, Sacramento, found AB32 would cost the state 1.1 million jobs.

To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail dmoller@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4237.