Four states mounting legal assault on California
September 9, 2010
The attorney generals from at least four states are planning to sue if California’s Global Warming Solutions Act survives a challenge at the ballot box in November. [CaliforniaWatch]
The attorneys generals of Alabama, Nebraska, Texas and North Dakota have been devising a legal strategy to challenge the California act, signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006, on the grounds that it interferes with the right to freely conduct interstate commerce.
California and other states are now in the forefront of the response to global warming in the wake of this year’s congressional retreat from federal climate legislation. California’s Global Warming Solutions Act, widely known as AB 32, imposes 80 percent carbon emission reductions by 2050 across all sectors of the economy.
That measure is now being challenged by Proposition 23, an initiative on the November ballot that would delay implementing the law until California’s unemployment rate drops to 5.5 percent or below. The state’s unemployment rate, which now stands at about 12 percent, was last at 5.5 percent in November 2007.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to regulate greenhouse gases, but it has yet to do so. That leaves California confronting a national electrical grid, subject to widely varying standards governing greenhouse gas emissions.
California obtains 30 percent of its power from beyond its borders, most of it from states in the Pacific Northwest and Southwest.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is at the forefront of using the courts to slow climate regulations. Abbott sued the EPA in federal court earlier this year, hoping to overturn the agency’s “endangerment finding” that greenhouse gases pose a threat to the environment and public health – a finding which triggered the agency’s ability to regulate CO2 emissions.
Two Texas oil companies, Valero Energy Corp. and Tesoro Corp., are thus far the biggest contributors to the effort to block the California law governing greenhouse gases, channeling more than $4 million into the “Yes on 23” campaign.
Steven Maviglio, spokesman for the “No on 23” campaign, said, “We are confident that our state’s clean air and electricity standards are bulletproof from any attacks from states where oil and coal companies control politicians.”
Anita Mangels, director of communications for the “Yes on 23” campaign, said she was not aware of the legal strategy, and that “it bears no relevance to Proposition 23, which will be voted on by California voters and is focused wholly on a temporary suspension of AB 32.”