Calif. climate law under assault as groups claim it threatens economy
Four years ago, California earned accolades for adopting a law that would slash its greenhouse gas emissions and serve as a model for national climate change legislation.
With the state mired in a crippling recession, the law that once looked like a landmark achievement is coming under assault. The regulatory effort Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger set in motion is facing a political backlash and could come to an abrupt halt in the months ahead.
A coalition of businesses, financed largely by three Texas oil companies, is funding a ballot petition that would delay the law until California’s current unemployment rate is cut by more than half.
Leading Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman has vowed she would suspend the law on her first day in office, which she would have the authority to do.
The ballot petition is expected to qualify for the November ballot, with taxpayer groups, businesses and oil companies contributing nearly $1 million so far to get signature gatherers on the streets. That if approved by voters, would suspend a four-year-old California law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Petition backers say California cannot afford to impose environmental regulations that would raise utility bills, fuel prices and cost jobs.