California AB32 Climate Law Stirs Controversy
A 2006 California environmental law known as AB32 has become the target of businesses concerned about higher energy costs. The law, one of the most aggressive in the US, addresses fuel and vehicle standards, green building and planning issues, and proposes a market for pollution trade that is yet to be created.
The law faces several challenges, including the November gubernatorial election, in which Republican Meg Whitman has proposed a year-long hold on key provisions, while Democrat Jerry Brown would leave the bill in place. There is also a ballot effort that may put AB32 on standby pending the lowering of the unemployment rate to 5.5% for four successive quarters. The ballot initiative is backed not just by grass roots resources, but also by oil interests such as Valero Energy, which has created additional controversy.
Californians have taken the lead in many areas of clean energy, but the state’s 12.5% unemployment rate has created economic hardship and placed pressure on the government to create more jobs, although suspending AB32 may or may not achieve that goal.
The law’s longer term fate may also hinge on the associated battle over the proposed federal climate change law, which actually puts a hold on California’s pollution market while it develops a federal market. The fate of California and the future of green energy nationwide appear to be intricately intertwined.