By Caitlin Eliason / Staff Writer
By Caitlin Eliason / Staff Writer
As California voters prepare for the November elections, the fight over Proposition 23 and global warming heats up.
Back in 2006, California created Assembly Bill 32 (AB 32), which required the Air Resources Board to monitor, report, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The November 2 ballot measure known as Proposition 23 seeks to suspend AB 32 until unemployment drops to 5.5 percent or less for one full year.
So what does this proposition mean for California? Opposite sides have different concerns, and they come down to two main arguments; saving the economy versus saving the environment.
Supporters of Prop. 23 believe it will have a positive fiscal impact on California’s economy, which they think is in a more dire state than the environment.
They say the suspension of greenhouse gas regulatory activity will likely result in a modest net increase in overall economic activity, which in turn will significantly boost revenues on both state and local levels.
The state’s current unemployment rate is at 12.4 percent, with 2.3 million Californians left unemployed. According to http://www.yeson23.com, Prop. 23 will save over a million jobs that would be otherwise destroyed by AB 32.
In addition, suspending AB 32 will prevent energy tax increases and other energy costs. Supporters of Prop. 23, including a number of taxpayers and small business owners, say California cannot afford these costs. Many believe they do not actually reduce global warming.
However, not all supporters of Prop. 23 see AB 32 as a hoax. Others who believe AB 32 is influential to the environment would be willing to pay the taxes, but only once the economy has improved.
Opponents, on the other hand, say the proposition will do little to help the economy, and will actually prevent its future growth.
Spokesman for the “No on 23” campaign, Steve Maviglio, acknowledged that though some jobs may be lost, focusing on renewable energy will lead to more jobs in the future; looking ahead is more important than focusing on a quick fix.
The opposition also argues that Prop. 23 will increase California’s dependence on oil, and will kill existing competition from wind and solar companies. These clean energy businesses provide half a million jobs, many of which will be lost if Prop. 23 passes and AB 32 is suspended.
Economics aside, opponents of the proposition fear it will cause significant harm to the environment. It has become known as the “Dirty Energy Proposition,” because they believe clean energy and air standards will be lost.
Opponents say this could contribute to more air pollution, which could in turn threaten the health and well-being of the public. For these reasons, organizations like California’s Professional Firefighters, AARP, and American Lung Association have come out against Prop. 23.
Another controversy over the proposition has surfaced: one over the funding both sides have received. Texas oil companies, including Teroso Corporation and Valero Energy Corporation, have funded a large part of the campaign for Prop. 23. Wealthy individuals who operate oil refineries have contributed as well.
Those against Prop. 23 accuse the oil companies of deceiving the public in order to increase California’s dependency on oil, and doubt whether they actually care about California’s jobs.
Supporters, however, counter that the oil companies have facilities in California that provide thousands of jobs and pay millions in taxes. They continue to note that outside sources have also attempted to sway the vote against Prop. 23, but no one has complained.
On November 2, the majority of California voters voted NO on Proposition 23, with 61 percent of the vote according to the LA Times.