California at the Crossroads: Proposition 23, AB 32, and Climate Change
By Berkley Law University of California
Proposition 23, an initiative appearing on California’s November 2010 general election ballot, would suspend the implementation and operation of California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, better known as AB 32, until state unemployment rates remain at or below 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters. That level has been reached three times since the state began compiling these statistics in 1976. AB 32 requires California to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, a reduction of approximately 30 percent from projected business-as-usual levels for the same year. During a period of suspension under Proposition 23, state agencies would not be able to “propose, promulgate, or adopt any regulation implementing” AB 32. In addition, the regulations adopted prior to suspension would be made “void and unenforceable” during the suspension period. The proponents of Proposition 23 argue that implementation of AB 32 will raise energy prices and reduce employment and, therefore, should be suspended until the state’s economy is more robust. They contend that Proposition 23 will benefit California by temporarily delaying expensive and burdensome greenhouse gas reductionmeasures, while allowing those measures to move forward in the future, when the California economy improves.