California voters defeated Proposition 23 in the Nov. 2 elections, voting 61.3% in favor of keeping the state’s 2006 greenhouse gas reduction law, the Global Warming Solutions Act (AB32), considered the strongest in the nation. A “yes” vote on Prop 23, backed by Texas oil money, would have suspended the law until the state’s unemployment rate stayed at or below 5.5% for four consecutive quarters. Assembly Bill 32 requires industry to report and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and is set to go into effect in 2012.
“It is the largest public referendum in history on climate and clean energy policy,” said Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund. “There has never been anything this big. It is going to send a signal to other parts of the country and beyond.”
The Texas-based refiners Valero Energy Corp. and Tesoro Corp., which launched the initiative along with the California Manufacturers and Technology Association and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, were outspent 3-to-1 as $31 million poured in from venture capitalists John Doerr and Vinod Khosla, Intel’s Gordon Moore, Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Google’s Sergey Brin, along with other wealthy California philanthropists and national conservation groups. Flint Hills Resources of Wichita, owned by oil billionaires Charles and David Koch, contributed $1 million to advocate Proposition 23. $4 million was contributed by Valero and Tesoro, both based in San Antonio. (LAT, Nov. 4; ENS, Nov. 3; Environmental Protection, Nov. 1)
California’s emissions laws have also faced challenge from the federal government.