CLIMATE CHANGE ROUNDUP: Moguls, Unions Get Their Proposition 23 Game On

By Published On: July 23, 2010

Is Ed Roski making amends? The real estate mogul--who successfully got a California Environmental Quality Act exemption from the Legislature last year for a stadium he plans to build to woo the NFL to the Los Angeles area--delivered a linebacker-sized $100,000 check to the No on Proposition 23 committee. He sent the money at the end of last month, according to a July 13 filing with the California Secretary of State. In a rather predictable tilt of the field, environmental groups against Proposition 23--which would suspend California’s global warming law, AB 32-- also bitterly opposed Roski’s stadium bill. Roski’s donation appears to support the very environmentalists who were the opposing team. The real estate king plans to build his stadium in the City on Industry, which lies near the intersection of two highly congested freeways in a suburban valley east of downtown Los Angeles. Approval in the all-business-all-the-time city with only 84 registered voters is considered as easy as a routine extra point kick. Not surprisingly, labor organizations backed Roski’s stadium bill, including the California State Pipe Trades Council. However, Roski now finds himself on the other side from his former backer. The field, however, tilts the other way here. On July 20, the Pipe Trades Council announced support for Proposition 23. “California’s global warming law will result in significant job losses, plain and simple,” stated James Kellogg, international representative for the council, whose members work at some of the refineries that are sponsoring the initiative. Meanwhile, the state Democratic Party, California Labor Federation, and California Professional Firefighters announced they are opposed to the initiative. Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is a primary opponent of the initiative. He told the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners July 21 that he “will push all the way” to destroy this ballot measure. He also placed the blame for the measure’s appearance in the state on “greedy oil companies from Texas . . . in the business of selling fossil fuels.” Looks like just about everybody is getting their game on when it comes to the future of AB 32. Stay tuned here for the full season play-by-play. * * * * * Academics are advising the California Air Resources Board to enter voluntary agreements with major industries to improve their energy efficiency in order to cut greenhouse gases. In a presentation to the Air Board July 20, professors from the University of California, Berkeley said European countries have been successful at improving industrial energy efficiency through such agreements. The advice came one day before the Air Board July 21 adopted a rule to require major industries to audit their energy efficiency. However, the Air Board at this time has no plans to do anything with the audits--either in the way of future regulation or voluntary agreements--assuming that they alone will be enough to prompt companies to use energy more efficiently. Big industrial emitters in California include cement makers, food processors, chemical plants, metal product makers, and electronics manufacturers, according to the Berkeley professors and researchers. * * * * * Attorney General Jerry Brown and the city of Pleasanton have settled a legal case aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Under their agreement, the city pledges to end restrictions on new housing and to open the way for jobs and new housing to be located close to each other. Pleasanton has seen employment rise, but housing has lagged behind the number of new jobs. In the last decade, jobs there nearly doubled from 31,683 to more than 58,000. But due to a lack of local and nearby affordable housing, it became common for workers to commute as much as two hours a day. The agreement stems from a lawsuit Urban Habitat brought against the city’s zoning restrictions in 2006. Brown intervened in 2009 in the interest of cutting greenhouse gases. Under the settlement, which Pleasanton’s city council approved July 20, the city is to remove restrictions on new housing and to accommodate affordable housing adjacent to the city’s Bay Area Rapid Transit station. Along with creating jobs and fulfilling the city’s share of regional housing, the new development will enable workers to live within walking distance of a major transit hub. * * * * * The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency agreed to fine-tune its greenhouse gas reporting requirements in a settlement agreement, the agency announced July 20. The agency said it plans to amend reporting rules it adopted in 2009 to address issues raised by trade associations, including the Utility Air Regulatory Group and the American Public Gas Association, in several areas. They include the emissions threshold for reporting--initially pegged at 25,000 tons/year of carbon dioxide equivalent--and monitoring, record keeping, and reporting procedures. The federal agency said the settlement resolves most of the issues raised in a complex series of legal challenges to the rules filed in two federal courts. * * * * * A report the Air Resources Board July released July 21 from the Universities of California at Davis and Berkeley concludes rising temperatures from climate change will increase ozone levels in California. It also forecast more dangerous airborne particles in the San Joaquin Valley due to changed wind patterns. The study points to a “climate penalty,” which is when rising temperatures increase ground level ozone and health-damaging particles despite reductions achieved under clean air regulations for vehicles and industries. The study found California could experience as many as six to 30 more days with ozone concentrations that exceed federal standards, depending on the extent of increased temperatures and assuming emissions in California remain at 1990-2004 levels.

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