Prop 23: “The Global Warming Proposition”

You can usually determine the quality of an apple by looking at the tree from which it came. Proposition 23 is a rotten apple from a depraved tree. Under the crafty guise of the “California Jobs Initiative,” Prop. 23 is nothing more than a filthy piece of legislation aiming to protect out-of-state oil companies at the expense of California’s environment. Pay no attention to the misleading rhetoric of the oil companies: Prop. 23 is dirtier than the L.A. smog circa 1980.

Prop. 23 revolves around Assembly Bill 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act, passed in 2006. Assembly Bill 32, or AB 32, stipulated that California must reduce its greenhouse gas emission levels to 427 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2020. The goal for 2020 is to match the 1990 emissions levels, which would represent a decrease of approximately 30 percent from expected 2020 emissions levels had AB 32 not been passed.

It’s a big job to handle. AB 32 designated the California Air Resources Board (ARB) and charged it with laying out a scoping plan for California to achieve its emissions reduction, which it approved on Dec. 12, 2008. According to the ARB, “[t]he scoping plan has a range of GHG [greenhouse gas] reduction actions which include direct regulations, alternative compliance mechanisms, monetary and non-monetary incentives, voluntary actions, market-based mechanisms such as a cap-and-trade system, and an AB 32 program implementation regulation to fund the program.”

So what does all this mean for the economy? It means new jobs. Specifically, lowering greenhouse gas emissions levels to those stipulated by AB 32 would lead to new jobs in the green sector. According to a study by David Roland-Holst of UC Berkeley, AB 32 would create approximately 403,000 new green jobs, meaning a $76 billion increase in gross state product and a $48 billion increase in real household incomes across California. Under AB 32, Californians would also spend less on energy. The California Energy Commission found that homeowners can expect to save about $200 per year from increased efficiency electricity and natural gas production.

Prop. 23 would indefinitely postpone the landmark legislation in AB 32. Supporters of Prop. 23 argue that AB 32 imposes new costs on businesses that will lead to higher energy prices and higher unemployment. Thus, Prop. 23 would restrain AB 32 measures from being enforced until California’s unemployment rate drops below 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters. Since 1970, this phenomenon has only occurred three times. Furthermore, California’s current unemployment rate is above 12 percent, higher than it was at any point between 1970 and this recent economic slump. Put two and two together and you’re left with a few good years before AB 32 gets rolling.

Supporters of Prop. 23, it seems, would rather not see the expansion of the green sector come to fruition. When you look at just who the contributors to the Prop. 23 cause are, it becomes quite apparent that this is the case. To date, $10.6 million has been contributed to Prop. 23. Of this, an astonishing $10.3 million, or 97 percent, comes from oil interests alone. What’s more, $8.1 million of the oil interest funding can be attributed to three specific companies: Valero, Tesoro, and Koch Industries. All three of these companies are based outside of California. In fact, an astonishing 90 percent of the funding for Prop. 23 comes from outside California!

Supporters of Prop. 23 do not care about the welfare of California’s economy or environment. All they care about is profit margins—profit margins they will take back to their respective states and out of the California economy.

The proponents of the so-called “California Jobs Initiative” could care less about job creation in California. In fact, by supporting their ironically-titled proposition, they would actually hinder the potential job creation in the green sector spurred by AB 32.

Prop. 23 is nothing but problems. California, the second-largest state emitter of greenhouse gases, needs to improve its emissions. California needs to focus on job creation through the expansion of the green sector. California needs to stand up to out-of-state oil barons. California needs to fail Prop. 23.

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