Black carbon soot threatens Sierra snow and CA water supply; Prop 23 jeopardizes CA cleantech sector
We’re starting a new (temporary) feature — a round-up of the latest news on the fossil fuel-funded Proposition 23 effort to repeal California’s clean energy and climate laws. We’ll also throw in some California-related global warming news, and a bonus NRDC video by the great Edward James Olmos.
Appalachian coal interests pump hundreds of thousands of dollars into political campaigns each election cycle, but hardly any of the money finds its way into California campaigns.
In the heartland, Big Coal is a powerful lobby. Some Midwestern states get more than 80 percent of their electricity from coal, and mines employ thousands of people. But the Golden State has no coal industry to speak of, and it gets its electricity from natural gas, hydropower and nuclear plants.
Nevertheless, Ohio-based Murray Energy Corp., the nation’s largest privately owned coal producer, has made donations in California campaigns twice this year.
If California’s Proposition 23 passes this November, it could put at risk 500,000 clean tech jobs, 12,000 companies and billions of dollars of private investment in California, say business and investment leaders, according to a report from the Clean Economy Network (CEN).
The Nov. 2 ballot measure would delay the implementation of certain parts of Assembly Bill 32, the 2006 law requiring that the state reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, until the state’s 12.3 percent unemployment rate drops to 5.5 percent for four consecutive calendar quarters, reports The Sacramento Bee.
The report, “Going Backward“ (PDF), indicates that Prop 23 would halt efforts to increase electricity produced from renewable sources, curb energy efficiency standards for homes and office buildings and prevent cleaner tailpipe emissions.
The fight over California’s aggressive law to curb emissions of carbon dioxide and other planet-heating pollutants is kicking into high gear.
Backers of Proposition 23, a November ballot initiative to suspend AB 32, California’s 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act, filed suit in Sacramento Superior Court Tuesday against Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown for what they called “false, misleading and unfair” language that would describe the measure on voters’ ballots.
If a ballot initiative is known by the company it keeps, we should be just a teeny bit suspicious of Proposition 23, the Nov. 2 measure designed to eviscerate California’s new greenhouse gas regulation.
The driving force behind the initiative is the oil industry, which has contributed more than $2.3 million to getting it passed. The biggest single contributor is San Antonio-based Valero Energy ($1.05 million, according to the latest state campaign disclosures), with San Antonio-based Tesoro Corp. in second place with $525,000.
Other oil firms bring up the rear, including California’s own Occidental Petroleum ($300,000). Then there’s the mysterious Adam Smith Foundation of Missouri, which put up $498,000. This outfit raised all of $5,162.40 in 2009 and ended that year with $109 to its name (according to its federal tax return ). I’d love to know who’s using the group as a front, but it hasn’t been answering its phone.
An expansive new poll on environmental attitudes suggests that despite the recession, Californians are holding fast to their environmental priorities.
Among the findings in the report released this week by the non-partisan Public Policy Institute of California is that support for the state’s climate change strategy remains strong, even in the face of a well-financed campaign against the law known as AB 32. Two-thirds (67%) of the respondents support the 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act, aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in California-about the same level as when PPIC polled the question last year.
What’s different this year, though, is that opponents of AB 32 are ramping up a statewide campaign to suspend the act’s regulations until the state unemployment rate drops to 5.5% or less and remains there for a year. It’s currently more than 12%. The question will appear on the November ballot as Proposition 23.
A new coalition launching in the coming weeks is mobilizing groups with deep roots in their communities to take on Proposition 23, a measure on the November ballot that seeks to overturn AB32, California’s landmark greenhouse gas regulation bill. Communities United Against the Dirty Energy Proposition represents those who suffer the worst effects of greenhouse gases but often have the most trouble being heard.
The contrast could hardly be sharper. In one corner, there are the big Texas oil companies who are Prop 23′s most prominent backers. In the other, you have groups like the Green the Rez Campaign, a project of the Bishop Paiute Tribe in the Eastern Sierra that promotes renewable energy and sustainable living on the local reservation.
The oily Texans trying to roll back AB32 already face opposition from a number of mainstream politicians and environmental groups. Now they’re about to get clobbered by a concerted effort that pulls together organizations with strong ties to Asian, Latino, African American, and Native communities. The connections they make between their health needs and the economy call into question the stale jobs versus environmental rhetoric and will give the No on Proposition 23 campaign loads of street cred.
Black carbon produced from diesel engines and wood burning is a bigger threat to global warming than previously thought. A new report from Stanford University has found that black and brown soot is adding to the rapid melting of arctic sea ice, as well as the Sierra Nevada snow pack.
Erika Rosenthal, an attorney with Earthjustice and an expert on this type of pollution, says black carbon emissions stay in the atmosphere for about a week, absorbing incoming sunlight and warming the atmosphere.
“When it lands on snow and ice it actually changes the reflectivity of the snow and ice, causing it to warm quickly and melt earlier. Earlier melt is really a threat to the security of the water supply in California over the long term.”
Video of the Week: