An oil industry-funded initiative headed to the November state ballot that would quash California’s air pollution regulations drew the ire of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and environmental groups today.
The measure, named the “California Jobs Initiative,” would suspend AB 32, the greenhouse gas emissions law signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006, until state unemployment drops to 5.5 percent or less for a full year.
It qualified for the ballot Tuesday and would require a simple majority of voters to pass.
Newsom and members of the Sierra Club, The Natural Resources Defense Council, the Environmental Defense Fund and San Francisco Baykeeper spoke out against the measure at Pier 7 in San Francisco against a backdrop of the San Francisco Bay, the site of the 53,000-gallon Cosco Busan oil spill in 2007.
“This is shameful,” Newsom said of the campaign, which has been largely paid for by the Texas-based Valero and Tesoro oil companies.
Newsom said substantial progress had been made in California in developing a green economy, and he added there is “no evidence whatsoever” AB 32 would kill jobs.
“People are now understanding that you can grow your economy and be more sustainable at the same time,” he said.
AB 32 requires that state greenhouse gas emissions be reduced to 1990 levels by the year 2020. A similar law in San Francisco requires the city to reduce such emissions to 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.
Newsom said the oil companies had already spent millions to defeat AB 32, and he expected much more in the coming months.
“This is serious business,” Newsom said. “This is an outrage. As a Californian, I’m offended.”
Anita Mangels, spokeswoman for the California Jobs Initiative campaign, also showed up at today’s event. She argued that with unemployment in California at more than 12 percent, the state could not afford to implement AB 32 right now.
Opponents have countered that California has only had 5.5 percent or lower unemployment three times in the past 30 years, and that the ballot measure would effectively kill AB 32.
Schwarzenegger issued a statement Tuesday condemning the ballot initiative.
“This initiative sponsored by greedy Texas oil companies would cripple California’s fastest growing economic sector, reverse our renewable energy policy and decimate our environmental progress for the benefit of these oil companies’ profit margins,” Schwarzenegger said.