See the Tabbed Pages for links to video tutorials, and a linked list of post titles grouped by topic.

This blog is expressly directed to readers who do not have strong training or backgrounds in science, with the intent of helping them grasp the underpinnings of this important issue. I'm going to present an ongoing series of posts that will develop various aspects of the science of global warming, its causes and possible methods for minimizing its advance and overcoming at least partially its detrimental effects.

Each post will begin with a capsule summary. It will then proceed with captioned sections to amplify and justify the statements and conclusions of the summary. I'll present images and tables where helpful to develop a point, since "a picture is worth a thousand words".

Friday, September 17, 2010

Blunting California’s Global Warming Solutions Act

Summary: Global warming due to man-made greenhouse gases arising from burning fossil fuels is a major and growing problem.  Objective scientific studies have clearly established that man-made global warming is a real process.  A warming planet is arguably already affecting climate and severe weather events around the globe.  It behooves the citizens of all nations to act dramatically to stem the addition of greenhouse gases to the air, and indeed to seek to reduce the amounts already present.  California acted unilaterally in 2006 to undertake such a program.  This program is now being challenged by a ballot initiative to be voted on in the November election.  If the voters approve this initiative it would strike a critical blow against combating global warming.

California’s Proposition 23 seeks to prevent the Global Warming Solutions Act from being implemented. The New York Times reported on September 17, 2010 that major financial backing for the initiative to block implementation of California’s unprecedented program to reduce greenhouse gas emission comes from wealthy out-of-state donors.  Proposition 23 on the ballot for November would suspend the provisions of AB 32 (2006), the "Global Warming Solutions Act" until unemployment falls below 5.5% or less for four quarters in a row.  Specifically, it would suspend the statutory requirement (see the next paragraph) that greenhouse gas emissions be cut to levels prevalent in California in 1990 by the year 2020.  The Proposition would also terminate the statutory emission reporting requirements and the implementation of programs to reduce greenhouse gas production by supplanting fossil fuels as an energy source with renewable energy sources.  The language of the Proposition makes unemployment during this time of economic hardship its apparent motivation.  Clearly, however, approval of the Proposition would preserve the demand for and consumption of fossil fuels, which would be to the advantage of currently operating energy companies.

The Global Warming Solutions Act.  In more detail, the Global Warming Solutions Act requires in part
(1)   monitoring and annual reporting of all major sources of greenhouse gas emissions,
(2)   accounting for greenhouse gas emissions arising in particular from the generation of electricity used in the state, whether generated within or outside the state,
(3)   establishing the level of greenhouse gas emissions that occurred in 1990 and assuring that greenhouse gas emissions be lowered to that level by 2020,
(4)   establishing rules and regulations by means of public hearings and taking into account the technological feasibility and cost-effectiveness in order to achieve the Act’s objectives, for electricity generation, petroleum refining and fuel supplies by Jan. 1, 2010, subject to exclusions for small businesses whose emissions fall below a level to be determined; the rules must be adopted by Jan. 1, 2011, and
(5)   affording the option of adopting regulations that establish a market-based system with successively lower annual limits to greenhouse gas emissions in order to achieve the objectives of the Act.
Current progress and status of implementing the Act may be accessed here

The Global Warming Solutions Act has been actively supported by the Republican Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.  The 1990 limit represents about a 25% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the level estimated for the year of passage, 2006.  California’s progressive initiative in this regard makes a significant contribution to modalities for reducing greenhouse gas production from fossil fuel combustion in the U. S.  It clearly far supersedes efforts at the federal level, which are held in stalemate in Congress.

Opponents of the Act.  Proposition 23 is written in terms of unemployment statistics, suggesting that its proponents may be interested in protecting or promoting jobs in California.  According to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics the last time that the California unemployment rate fulfilled the criterion set out in Proposition 23 ended July 2007, and is not likely to return to such low levels for many years.  Yet the backers of Proposition 23 appear to have little interest in the welfare of workers.  Rather, the New York Times reports that several out-of-state oil companies are contributing millions of dollars in support of Proposition 23.  The interests of these companies are best served by defeating any initiatives promoting alternative energy development.  The oil billionaires Charles and David Koch of Kansas have contributed $1 million, and the total for energy company contributions is $7.9 million, most of which has come from outside of California.  According to an extensive list of supporters of Proposition 23 Valero, Tesoro Companies and Flint Hills Resources alone have donated $6,575,000.  Other major contributors include other energy companies, the California Trucking Association, and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, which is responsible for several California initiatives to limit taxes.

Supporters of the Act. The Global Warming Solutions Act is supported by members of both parties.  Opponents of Proposition 23  include the group “Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs”, whose honorary co-chairman is George Schultz, Secretary of State under Pres. Ronald Reagan.  According to the linked article, he has stated “While some companies in California have said they’re worried about the cost of the planned greenhouse gas limits, the new regulations will boost the state’s economy by creating 'clean-tech jobs’".  Opponents of the Proposition have donated about $5 million.  These include Thomas Steyer, the National Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Defense Fund.  Thomas Steyer is a San Francisco hedge fund manager who was an active fund raiser for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.

Conclusion. It’s important to weigh the effects of approval of the Proposition versus maintaining the Act in force in deciding how to vote in November.  The outcome would have major consequences for combating global warming in California.

No comments:

Post a Comment