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What does Proposition 26 mean for climate change?

By Dylan Matthews

Given how low the chances of congressional action on climate change are now, state efforts like California's climate bill, AB 32, are going to pick up a lot of the slack. AB 32 requires the state to cut yearly emissions by 174 million metric tons, which translates into a national reduction of over 7 percent, so a successful effort to repeal or weaken it could have major national implications.

Proposition 23, which would have effectively repealed AB 32, lost substantially last week. But Proposition 26, which would require a two-thirds vote for the state legislature or local governments to impose new regulatory fees, passed. Given that imposing pollution fees will likely be necessary for AB 32 to work, some environmentalists were worried that Prop 26 could derail the bill indirectly.

Helpfully, the Natural Resources Defense Council's Kristin Eberhard has a post up (via Andrew Restuccia) explaining that this is not the case:

Proposition 26 redraws the line between taxes and fees under California law. It states that it applies to “any change in state statute” that occurs after January 1, 2010. The Legislature passed AB 32 and the Governor signed it into law in 2006, well before Proposition 26 comes into effect. Although AB 32 implementation is ongoing, CARB’s authority to impose fees on polluters under AB 32 will not require “any change in state statute” post January 1, 2010. Accordingly, Proposition 26 does not change CARB’s authority to move forward with implementing AB 32.

What's more, as Jonathan Zasloff argues here, it's doubtful that courts would interpret the proposition as intended to interfere with AB 32, given that the same voters who approved it overwhelmingly rejected Proposition 23. Climate hawks have plenty of problems to worry about, but Proposition 26 does not appear to be one of them.

Dylan Matthews is a student at Harvard and a researcher at The Washington Post.

By Dylan Matthews  | November 10, 2010; 10:38 AM ET
Categories:  Climate Change  
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I'm glad this doesn't seem to be likely to affect AB 32, but man, did California really need another 2/3 vote requirement?

Posted by: MosBen | November 10, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Absolutely amazing that California thinks the ridiculous global warming bill isn't going to be an absolute job killer. The ridiculous environmental regulations in that state have been absolutely devastating to the economy even before that ridiculous proposition was passed. As I am sure several of the readers of this blog are already aware, a survey of over 500 CEOs and business leaders rated California the absolute worst state in the US to start or run a business. The culprits? The onerous environmental regulations, the Democratic Party's fealty to unions and California's high taxes. Thousands of people flee the state EVERY WEEK because of the terrible business and tax environment there.

One of the best things about the election Tuesday is the fact there is a Congress that will tell California to go pound salt when it comes begging Washington for a bailout. The headline will be reminiscent of a famous headline from years ago: Washington tells California to DROP DEAD. California, and the fact it keeps electing more and more Democrats into power, even as the state has gone further down the toilet, deserves everything that happens. They are getting what they deserve and frankly I will laugh when they go bankrupt.

Posted by: Bob65 | November 10, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

You want to know how much of a difference AB 32 will make in regards to global warming? Absolutely zero. Seems environmentalists care about worthless symbolic gestures than they do jobs.

Posted by: Bob65 | November 10, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

And conservatives care more about giveaways to the rich than they do about jobs or the planet they give to their children. Don't you guys get tired of that level of discussion?

Posted by: MosBen | November 10, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

The Polluters Protection Act or PROP 26 is a treacherous, Big Oil rip-off, which "passes the buck" from oil corporation, clean-up fees to the taxpayer, who will pay the oil recycling fees, the toxic waste fees and other fees. Repeal Prop 26 and restore democracy. Solar power to the people. Big Oil snookered Californians with Prop 26.

Posted by: EarlRichards1 | November 10, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

To those posting that AB 32 will kill jobs, you're wrong. Dead wrong!

With Prop 26 defeated, billions of investor dollars will once again be flowing into the State. Dozens of VCs had planned investments into hundreds of "green" tech companies prior to the advent of Prop 26. Now, that surety is gained those investments will be safer. That translates into thousands of jobs in new technology jobs...and if we can get a good industrial policy going again, we could see manufacturing of those new technologies here in CA as well.

Posted by: valkayec | November 10, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

valkayec wrote:

"Now, that surety is gained those investments will be safer. That translates into thousands of jobs in new technology jobs...and if we can get a good industrial policy going again, we could see manufacturing of those new technologies here in CA as well."

You should come here more often. The morning roundup this week had a link to a story by a journalist named Potts about how green tech jobs are shrinking rather than expanding.

Posted by: 54465446 | November 10, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

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