Other Voices: Prop 23: Making an informed decision
Proposition 23 is one of the most important initiatives facing voters this November. Passage of Prop 23 would suspend the implementation of AB 32, the California “Global Warming Solutions Act.”
AB 32 would impose a ceiling on carbon dioxide emissions, impose taxes on goods and services we all use, and direct the proceeds to certain “green” industries. Economists estimate that AB 32 would cost every family in the state almost $4,000 per year in higher costs of housing, transportation, food and energy, and small businesses would see costs of doing business increase on average almost $50,000 per year.
Because no other state is adopting such a plan, and other countries are also suspending costly global warming regulations, businesses and jobs will have even more reason to continue to depart California – some estimates place the loss of jobs from AB 32 at 1.1 million. Chasing jobs, businesses, and tax revenues out of California during the current recession and resulting severe budget deficits does not make sense to a lot of people. That is why Proposition 23 would suspend (not kill) implementation of AB 32 until unemployment in the state falls to levels seen before the current recession.
But, isn’t solving global warming a noble cause, and is not California always proud to be in the vanguard when it comes to protecting the environment? Setting aside the raging arguments about whether global warming (or climate change, if you prefer) is caused by natural cycles or human activities and whether or not the climate scientists deliberately tinkered with the data, let’s look at what impact AB 32 would have on the global emission of greenhouse gases.
California contributes 1.4 percent of the world’s greenhouse gasses. AB 32 would reduce this by 15 percent, or a total global reduction of 0.21 percent. There is no disagreement that this minuscule reduction would have no impact on global warming. So, California’s “go it alone” plan in today’s recession is economic suicide without environmental benefit.
Some people have argued that AB 32 would reduce air pollution, in particular ozone levels in Nevada County. That was the basis of an “Other Voices” article in The Union recently. As an engineer, I have over 20 years experience in this area of science. I will try to keep this simple.
AB 32 would reduce levels of carbon dioxide gas. Ozone formation in the atmosphere has absolutely no connection to carbon dioxide gas. Ozone is formed when nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons (or volatile organic compounds, VOCs) react in the presence of sunlight in the atmosphere. Emissions of nitrogen oxides and VOCs are already stringently regulated in California (and all states).
AB 32, by reducing only the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, would have zero impact on ozone. Anyone wishing to learn more about this topic could start with a Wikipedia search on “ozone” “VOC” and “CO2.”
Formation of ozone is a technical matter, and the author of last week’s The Union article can be excused for making this mistake. However, Jerry Brown’s Attorney General’s office was recently caught making other misleading arguments regarding Proposition 23 that were intended for the voter’s pamphlets. A California judge ruled in August that the misleading language needed to be revised before the pamphlets were released to the public. This strategy is right out of the Democratic politician’s playbook — deliberately misrepresenting facts and misleading the public.
A healthy debate on Proposition 23 is good, but voters deserve to be provided with the facts in order to make an intelligent and informed decision. A good source for the facts on Proposition 23 can be found at http://www.SuspendAB32.org.
Bob Hren lives in Nevada City.
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