Meg Whitman wants to “fix” California’s global warming law
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For weeks, Meg Whitman, California’s Republican gubernatorial candidate, has said that if elected she would suspend the state’s 2006 global warming law for a year.
But in Tuesday’s debate with Democratic candidate Jerry Brown, at Dominican University in San Rafael, she also said something else: She wants not only to delay the law, known as AB 32, but to ‘fix’ it. She told the audience that only 3% of California jobs are ‘green jobs’ and that the law ‘is going to do real damage to the rest of the jobs in the economy.’
At a campaign stop Wednesday at Philippe’s restaurant in L.A., Whitman was questioned by the Times’ Cathleen Decker about how she would fix the law, which is aimed at slashing the state’s greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
She responded: ‘So I want to freeze the law, the implementation of the law, and fix it. And here’s what I want to do: Can we change the implementation schedule? Can we change some of the way that we’re going to implement this law so it doesn’t hurt businesses so immediately, like trucking or packaging or manufacturing? But I believe that there is a way to protect the 3% of the jobs that are green jobs while we don’t hurt the other 97% of the economy.’
She said such a fix had always been part of her thinking: ‘Well, the reason that you would put a moratorium on for a year is to say, gee, will employment decrease, but, more importantly, is there a way to fix AB32 in such a way that it would be good for green jobs, we can still have national leadership on the environment but also not hurt the other 97% of the economy?’ she asked.
Whitman, former chief executive of EBay, has walked a fine line on the global warming issue, which is a major concern for the state’s green-leaning voters. Both she and Brown oppose Proposition 23, a ballot measure to suspend the law until California’s jobless rate drops to 5.5% for a year--an initiative that would effectively delay it indefinitely. The measure is funded largely by Texas-based oil companies with refineries in California. Whitman’s rejection of Prop. 23 came after significant pressure from fellow Silicon Valley executives who back the global warming law as a way to slash fossil fuel emissions and direct the state’s economy toward solar, wind and other clean technology. Seven of the nation’s 10 largest clean tech companies are based in California.
California’s Air Resources Board is in the midst of developing complex regulations to slash the carbon footprint of cars, trucks and industries. The regulations are scheduled to be finalized in December. The agency is being heavily lobbied by oil companies, cement manufacturers, utilities, automakers and other businesses who would like the regulations to be ‘fixed’ to lessen their effect.
Environmentalists are pushing for strict rules that would drive investment in energy efficiency, solar plants, and cleaner fuels. In Tuesday’s debate, Brown said that delaying the law would create ‘regulatory uncertainty’ for clean tech investors and businesses.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican who sees the global warming law and the push for green jobs as a major legacy of his administration, has pointedly not endorsed Whitman.