California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger addressing the UN about climate. Image: UN Photo/Marco Castro
The midterm elections saw Republications take over control of the House and gain ground in the Senate. Obviously, not the best of news for President Obama. But California voters kept hope alive for some sort of climate change legislation during Obama's presidency by rejecting Proposition 23. If the ballot initiative had passed, it would have shelved important 2006 legislation that capped California greenhouse gas emissions until unemployment in the state fell to 5.5 percent and stayed there for four quarters in a row.
(For more about what the election outcomes mean for environmental legislation, see Susan Cosier’s post from earlier today.)
In case you don’t know much about Prop 23, here’s some background: A little more than four years ago, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 to combat climate change by limiting the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. Specifically, it required:
- mandatory reporting and monitoring of emissions in the state
- a cap on emissions at 1990 levels by the year 2020
San Clemente, CA. Image: Stuck in Customs, Flickr Creative Commons
- a reduction in total state greenhouse gas emissions
When the law passed, The New York Times touted it as “the most sweeping controls on carbon emissions in the nation,” putting the state “at the forefront of a broad campaign to curb the man-made causes of climate change.” It earned accolades for pushing an issue in the face of Washington resistance, and it touched many sectors of the economy (from GreenBiz.com):
Reaching the law’s mandates involves a low-carbon fuel standard for vehicle fuels as well as regulations for tires, engine oils, paints, window glazes, and vehicle insurance. It involves new regulations that affect housing, trucking, refrigerated vehicles, cargo vessels, rail freight, chemicals, and many other parts of the economy…Which is why some big companies hated it.
Many of those big companies—specifically oil titans—still hate it, hence the recent fight to suspend the law. Groups on both sides of this fence raised millions leading up to Election Day. But Californians spoke with their ballots, with almost 60 percent saying a big “No thanks!” to Prop 23.