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Big oil companies versus the 'global warming law'

October 26, 2010 |  6:52 am

As election day nears, the debate around Proposition 23 has heated. If passed, it would suspend AB 32, otherwise known as the "global warming law," created to reduce California's greenhouse-gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, until unemployment rates go up.

Blog_For Prop 23 In an Op-Ed from Tuesday’s Opinion pages, Jack M. Stewart, president of the California Manufacturers & Technology Assn., argues in support of Prop. 23. Suspending AB 32, he writes, would lower energy costs and increase economic activity.

By our calculations, temporarily suspending AB 32 would prevent billions of dollars in higher energy costs and save more than 1 million jobs. … [I]t would prevent additional, more burdensome regulations, such as cap-and-trade, from increasing energy prices and killing jobs until the economy has a chance to recover. Small businesses and families are having a very difficult time in this economy. Proposition 23 could provide some relief. (Read more: " Help California help itself.")

No on Prop 23_nahaiDavid Nahai has a different take. In an Op-Ed from Tuesday, he writes:

I’ve been shocked by many of the specious claims made by Proposition 23’s proponents. Supporters say it would save jobs, when in fact it would kill the state’s fledgling green tech industry… …I served as chief executive of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the country’s largest municipal utility, so I can say from experience that in recent years, the DWP has made huge strides in expanding its renewable energy portfolio. At the time of my departure in 2009, we had reached a point at which we were getting 15% of our electricity from such sources, and there’s a possibility of reaching 20% this year. (Read more: "Proposition 23's rate-hike myth.")

The Times’ editorial board also opposes Prop. 23:

Economic forecasts might be murky, but it's clear that there will be winners and losers if the state, as it's directed to do by AB 32, caps greenhouse gas emissions at power plants and other big pollution sources. Among the losers would be Valero Energy and Tesoro Corp., the San Antonio-based oil companies that fronted the money to get Proposition 23 on the ballot and have together contributed nearly $5.6 million to the campaign. Among the winners would be venture capitalists and companies that are investing billions of dollars in renewable power plants and research into clean-energy alternatives. But it goes deeper than that. Although Proposition 23's supporters rightly point out that California, by itself, can't have much of an impact on global warming no matter how sharply it cuts its carbon emissions, AB 32 will have benefits beyond the fight against climate change. Cleaner energy will also bring cleaner air, reducing public health costs and improving quality of life. … With Congress currently paralyzed on climate legislation, California is the best hope for a cleaner future in the United States. Vote no on Proposition 23. Read the complete endorsement here.

How will you vote on Nov. 2?

-- Alexandra Le Tellier

Photos, from top: A television spot in support of Proposition 23. Credit: Yes on 23 campaign. Opponents of the proposition march through Wilmington on Oct.14, 2010, to protest pollution from the local refineries, which they say causes health-related problems. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

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