Washington University Students for International Collaboration on the Environment

California’s Clean Energy Battle

With the Nov. 2 elections looming a week away, Californians face two vital ballot initiatives that will determine the fate of the state’s progressive clean energy policies.

Proposition 23, if passed, would suspend the implementation of AB32 – the “Global Warming Solutions Act” – until California’s unemployment rate falls below 5.5% for a full year.  (In comparison, California currently has a 12.4% unemployment rate.)

AB32 is a HUGELY progressive policy.  It calls to reduce California’s CO2 emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, by fostering a clean energy industry.  Since AB32 was passed, California has attracted over $9 billion in clean energy investments.

Understandably, Prop 23 has raised vocal support and opposition and over $40 million in campaign contributions.  Notable supporters of Prop 23 are the big oil companies Valero & Tesoro.  Lining up in opposition are a motley team of conservation groups, non-profits, Al Gore and even Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Luckily, poll results show that Proposition 23 is unlikely to pass.  Unfortunately, oil companies have turned their attention to a lesser-known ballot initiative: Prop 26.  Proposition 26 would make it difficult for California’s state and local government to impose fees on corporations that impose costs on society such as pollution or toxic waste.  The bill could cost California billions in revenue.

Let’s hope that voters preserve California’s landmark environmental bills.

Nadav Rindler

Washington University in St. Louis


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