Calif. Climate Ballot Fight: National Ripple Effects Either Way

September 29, 2010

As the election season heats up, eyes around the nation are on California — where the state's landmark 2006 climate action law (AB32) is under attack. The ballot initiative Proposition 23 seeks to suspend implementation of the law until the state's unemployment rate sufficiently recovers.

  • Ballotpedia Prop 23 info. "If enacted by voters, Prop 23 will freeze the provisions of AB32 until California's unemployment rate drops to 5.5% or below for four consecutive quarters." Resource page includes links to key supporters and opponents.

If Prop 23 passes, the delay it would cause in AB32 implementation could disrupt plans for many green companies — and their suppliers — in CA and around the US. Also, passage of Prop 23 might weaken political will in other states, or at the federal level, for tougher green energy policy.

Also in this year's California elections, the Republican candidate for governor, Meg Whitman, has promised to suspend for a year the rules implementing AB32. Whitman press: Sarah Pompei, 408-457-1369, email.

Jerry Brown, the Democratic candidate for governor (and current state attorney general), supports CA's climate and green jobs policies — but he's been a bit slippery about his position on the particulars of AB32, according to the NY Times and GreenGov 2010.

AB32 set ambitious goals for making one of the most populous and influential states in the nation a leader in producing and using renewable energy. Most notably, the law requires that by 2020 California must drop its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels (a roughly 25% reduction). The law is widely viewed as fueling sharp growth in the renewable energy and clean technology industries around the US.

Just this week, the California Air Resources Board (the key agency responsible for implementing AB32's requirements) passed a regulation requiring the state's utilities to obtain a third of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

Also, on Sept. 23 CARB released a report on its progress on the AB32 scoping plan.

  • A Sept. 24 Bloomberg article indicates the business ripple effects of AB32. "Demand for solar panels on rooftops and in fields as well as for wind turbines in the most populous US state will get a boost from the new regulations." 

Which businesses in your area might be affected by the outcome of AB32? If Prop 23 fails, which local green energy, energy efficiency, or clean technology companies stand to gain from doing more business with California? These industry associations can put you in touch with local chapters, organizations, or experts. Be sure to also ask about companies in the supply chain.

So far, more than half of US states have passed or are considering a climate action plan. The PewCenter on Global Climate Change offers resources on state-level action and initiatives. Contact key players in climate plans in your state and ask about the potential impact of either outcome on the Prop 23 vote. Press: Tom Steinfeldt, 703-516-4146.