Will Californians Put Off Cap and Trade?

San Diego, Calif.—Will the only state to enact stiff regulations to limit greenhouse emissions vote in November to postpone the “cap and trade”-style rules until its economy survives?

That was a question asked throughout the California Republican Convention here this weekend. Four years after Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law A.B. 32 to limit greenhouse emissions by 20% to 30%, conservative GOP Assemblyman Dan Logue has written a statewide initiative that would suspend “32” until the Golden State’s present unemployment rate of 12.2% is down to 5.5% for four quarterly periods in a row.

After a series of public meetings on the issue conducted by Logue and Rep. Tom McClintock (R.-Calif.), the measure known as Proposition 23 qualified for the ballot this November.

One of the key leaders in opposing the proposition, Logue noted, is Van Jones, who resigned as President Obama’s White House green jobs czar following a public dustup with Fox News’ Glenn Beck.

“When you realize that Van Jones is leading the charge against us, along with the [far left California] Peace and Freedom Party and Arianna Huffington, you know we’re on the right side,” Logue told HUMAN EVENTS.

In contrast, he noted, every Republican member of the California state Assembly as well as U.S. Senate nominee Carly Fiorina have weighed in for Proposition 23. (To the disappointment of “23” backers, GOP gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman has yet to endorse the initiative).

The most recent Field Poll showed that by a margin of 48% to 30%, California voters are against Proposition 23. In discussing these figures, veteran GOP pollster Adam Probolsky explained to HUMAN EVENTS that “what they mean are that Democrats and independents so far, do not see the reason for suspending what they consider a law that protects the environment. This is the job ahead of the backers of ‘23’—to convince those voters that, at this time, the California economy must take priority over the environment.”

Cap and Trade Rules Are Job Killers

In an exclusive interview with HUMAN EVENTS, Logue, a Placer County legislator, recalled how he decided to write Proposition 23 last year as the “Climategate” scandal was breaking and doubts about the veracity of the scientific data behind global warming mounted.

“I felt that the whole issue of global warming could be a scam,” he said, “and that as a result of it, our economic growth in California was being strangled by Schwarzenegger’s ‘cap and trade’ regulations.”

He was referring to the ’06 legislation, encouraged and signed into law by Schwarzenegger, which made California the lone state to implement rigorous measures to lower greenhouse emissions. 

The law empowered the governor to appoint a seven-member panel to set regulations dealing with greenhouse emissions. Noting that the panel could “regulate the air in our tires and the size of our homes and tax the mileage we drive every year,” Logue said that “most critically, the legislation creating the panel has been a job killer. Unemployment has risen from 4.8% to 12.2% here. Our manufacturing industry has been particularly hit hard by compliance with A.B. 32, losing more than one million jobs since ’06.”

A study of the economic impact of A.B. 32 by California State University Business School Dean Sanjay Varshney for the Business for the California Business Roundtable confirms Logue’s charge that the legislation is a “job killer.” 

According to the study, “The direct A.B. 32 cost of $24.878 billion results in a total loss of output of $71.464 billion annually for the State of California (after including indirect and induced costs). The direct cost of $52.194 billion cost to consumers results in total lost output of $149.2 billion annually. The direct cost of $63.895 million to small businesses results in a total loss of output of $182.649 billion annually. In terms of employment, this output loss is equivalent to the loss of roughly half a million jobs for the state … 900,000 jobs loss due to costs to consumers, and 1.1 million jobs loss due to costs to small businesses. A loss of 1.1 million jobs represents over 3% of the total population of California.”

In discussing his initiative and its suspension of the “cap and trade” regulations until unemployment has dropped, Logue emphasized that this was not about global warming or the science behind it. 

Rather, he said, “it’s about jobs. I was in real estate for years before I got elected to the Assembly [in ‘08] and now I’m chairman of the Republican Jobs Caucus in the Assembly. I know something about creating jobs, and while there will be a time and place to deal with global warming and its science, what we need to deal with now in California is jobs, period.”