Sunday, 26 September 2010

California - AB 32 & Proposition 23.

Blogger or whomever complained:
       Please advise what is amiss in this post, thanks.

aka Lei da Ficha Limpa / Clean Slate Law.
Up, Down, Appendices, Postscript.

Comics of the 10s:
See you Monday Romano.
I'm coming too, I'm dead from so much work.
Handsome lad. And he already works with me.
You have to get an apprenticeship Junior.

Poll conducted for The LA Times and the University of Southern California College of Letters, Arts & Sciences between September 15 and 22. The polling was conducted by two national survey research firms, the Democratic firm of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and the Republican firm American Viewpoint.OK, California's 'Global Warming Solutions Act' of 2006 aka Assembly Bill 32 aka AB-32 is drawing the heat. The super-rich, or some of them - in particular the Koch brothers (at about 16 billion net worth each), don't like AB-32 and want to delay it until the end of time.

There's lots of info around. Here's from the NYT on September 20th, and the LA Times on the 24th. Also pretty good coverage at Wikipedia. And here's Thomas Friedman summing it up on October 5th. I don't much like Friedman, but as a reporter he is ok, and this is good reporting.

Here's Arnie! Arnold Schwarzenegger slams Proposition 23 in Santa Clara on September 28, on YouTube.

I wonder about the Koch's personal fantasies around climate change and future generations. Everyone has personal fantasies right? What on earth can they be thinking?

In good company. :-)I wonder about the apparent failure of hope. Interesting that Rick Salutin must have been running on a parallel track this week.

And (in the face of failed politics, failed community, failed technology ... and so forth) I wonder what can possibly be done? Especially I wonder what I can do? And what I will do? And what will I do?

The Beatles, Beatles For Sale, Baby's In Black.

So ... I doubt I will get much beyond Salutin's "... and because it’s more fun, in the end, to ponder." I wonder if he smokes? I wonder if he ever smoked? If he did, and if he doesn't, then I wonder how he managed to quit?

Health CanadaHealth CanadaHealth CanadaHealth Canada

Or, say, beyond Bob and his "You see, you’re just like me, I hope you’re satisfied."

There are gallons of pundit jizz on the subject, running down the fish-wrap gutters. Some of it is interesting - the exec who quit, Jake DeSantis: Dear A.I.G., I Quit!. It is skewed, like Joe Stack's letter, has to be viewed through a reverse-prism. These guys, Joe & Jake, make obvious assumptions that I'm certainly not able to make anymore (if I ever did).

To put it in statistical perspective: America - population 310,000,000, 1.5% > 250,000 = 4,650,000, 0.9% > 350,000 = 2,790,000. So, three million of 'em round abouts.

Koch IndustriesJulia & David KochCharles KochJulia KochDavid KochCharles KochDenial

They say this Julia is a 'trophy wife' - 20 years younger than her hubby. 20 years, hell, if she's the trophy wife of a seventy year old man she should be 30 or 40 years younger eh? That would be a trophy. Anyway, I looked at quite a few pictures of her and she has the identical deer-in-the-headlights look in all of 'em. Maybe he only got one frame of the film in the deal whatever it was? Is that it?

Comics of the 10s:
I bought the mountains to support my anguish.
I bought the castle to be less unhappy.
Imagine those without cash looking for help.

King CanuteApparently they make Exxon/Mobil look like pikers when it comes to financing climate change denial. The Greenpeace report says 'Climate Denial.' I didn't read every word but are they really denying climate itself? Give 'em the King Canute award for that one for sure if it's true.

You can read the whole report, or the Executive Summary, which is actually a bit more than just the executive summary, includes the Table of Contents and so on.

These guys have already thrown millions into the Proposition 23 struggle. We'll just have to see what happens in five weeks on November 2 I guess - I can't see going there and trying to do something?

And here are links to the major deep dark pockets: Valero Energy Corporation & Tesoro Corporation & Occidental Petroleum & Marathon Oil Corporation.

It is hopeful that some heavyweight Republicans are strongly against Proposition 23: George Shultz in an editorial below and Arnold Schwarzenegger in this report. Hopeful because they both have stroke, and also because it is an indication of the non-partisan nature of this reality we live in.

I was in California once, a Renaissance Faire in San Luis Obispo in the late 70s sometime. I didn't stay long. Funny story - I was a stage carpenter in those days and I travelled with my hammer (of course). I only carry hand luggage on airplanes if I can get away with it, and the hammer, a 22 oz. all-steel framing hammer was in there - no problem at the border, none whatsoever - those were the days :-)

If you thought I had answers to any of this you were mistaken. I have no idea where to go from here. I am stuck trying to understand how these dinosaurs can be so wrong and keep it up ... and how the counterforce can be so lame.

Ah, love, let us be true To one another! :-)Ahh ...
Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.
Há em qualquer lugar, o CPT (Chefe de Porra Toda), e no outro lado tem Aspone (Assessor de Porra Nenhuma), tudo bom, fique bem querida.

Be well.

Comics of the 30s:
When can I come back?
When you manage to find a live mammal, D26.
Titties, I haven't seen tittles for a long time ...
Remember our agreement D26. We only suck as a group.

Calling base. I think I've found what you wanted so much.
Titties! Titties!
Titties and problems guys.
I only fuck for love.

Postscript: (speaking of titties)

Not to be outdone by Doug Saunders (the nincompoop at the Globe and Mail), Climate Action Network sent me a newsletter this week, inspired apparently by the constraints imposed by their heavy donors ("... many of our organizations such as Oxfam Canada feel strongly about the gender aspects of climate change," said their 'Communications Coordinator,' Hannah McKinnon) and by strokes from the likes of Wangari Maathai & Mary Robinson. I have a lot of respect for Wangari Maathai, and Mary Robinson was the president of Ireland which was certainly no cakewalk.

But ... oh my ... what a tiresome load of ideological shit!

And (as I imagine) with all the advantages of a bourgeois upbringing, our Hannah still can't read. And despite (I imagine again) some considerable post-secondary education, our Hannah still can't think for herself.

Song: We have a little sister, and she hath no breasts: what shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for?

Wellesley FireWellesley FireThere was a fire in Toronto on September 23 in the public housing complex at 200 Wellesley Street. It was ONE apartment - but it was hot. Still, it was books and papers they say, not a meth lab. It became a seven alarm fire. There were high winds that day. Now it is three days later. The 1,500 evacuated residents have not yet been permitted to return. There are fears of structural damage they say.

Take two giant steps back. One apartment burns up and three days later 1,500 people are still on the street!? Now consider that this had been a really big fire ... not a comfortable meditation for a defenceless resident of the largest city in k-k-Canada. Is it?

WTO, Battle In SeattleWTO, Battle In SeattleI watched Battle In Seattle this week. The film didn't make it into video stores apparently. Who can say why? But you can download it from IsoHunt.

Jennifer Carpenter plays Sam - I kept thinking she was Sarah Polley, but I was mistaken.

The events in Seattle in 1999 were (and continue to be) important.

Walter LowdermilkWalter LowdermilkAnd finally, here's Walter Clay Lowdermilk. Never heard of him? Me neither, until I got my Earth Policy Institute newsletter today referring to him - quite a fellow! He certainly deserved a middle-name like 'Clay.' You can find a longer biography at the NRCS site.

"Thou shalt inherit the holy earth as a faithful steward conserving its resources and productivity from generation to generation. Thou shalt safeguard thy fields from soil erosion, thy living waters from drying up, thy forests from desolation, and protect thy hills from overgrazing by the herds, that thy descendants may have abundance forever. If any shall fail in this stewardship of the land, thy fruitful fields shall become sterile stony ground or wasting gullies, and thy descendants shall decrease and live in poverty or perish from off the face of the earth."

That's it then.

Up, Down


1. Mais de 90% dos eleitores da região Norte aprovam a Lei da Ficha Limpa, 24/09/2010.

2. Rob Ford and the loss of hope, Rick Salutin, September 24 2010.

3. Dear A.I.G., I Quit!, Jake DeSantis, March 13 2009.

4. Climate Action Network, Newsletter excerpt, September 23 2010.

5. Women Can Lead the Way in Tackling Development and Climate Challenges Together, Wangari Maathai & Mary Robinson, September 20 2010.

6. The Brothers Koch and AB 32, NYT Editorial, September 20 2010.

7. Proposition 23 poll shows a dead heat among California voters, Margot Roosevelt, September 24 2010.

8. Clean air law is key to our future, George P. Shultz, September 12 2010.

9. Schwarzenegger defends climate law, slams Texans, Peter Fimrite, September 28 2010.

10. The Terminator vs. Big Oil, Thomas L. Friedman, October 5 2010.

Mais de 90% dos eleitores da região Norte aprovam a Lei da Ficha Limpa, 24/09/2010.

No Norte e no Centro Oeste, 91% dos eleitores aprovaram a 'Lei da Ficha Limpa', regra que impede que políticos condenados em instância colegiada (mais de um juiz) possam ser eleitos.

A informação é de um estudo encomendado pela Associação dos Magistrados do Brasil (AMB) e realizado pelo Ibope. O estudo também mostrou que 50% dos eleitores da região Norte nunca presenciaram uma situação de compra de votos.

Na pesquisa, que teve o apoio do Tribunal Superior Eleitoral (TSE), foram ouvidos 2.002 eleitores em todo Brasil e verificou que 14% deles votariam em um político que oferecesse algo em troca. Os números de pessoas que aceitariam vender o voto no Centro-Oeste e no Norte foram menores, chegando a 13%.

Segundo o Ibope, 47% das pessoas não denunciariam candidatos que cometessem abuso de poder econômico. A omissão seria maior entre as pessoas que têm apenas o Ensino Fundamental (61%).

A maior parte dos interessados em denunciar os corruptos procuraria a Justiça (43%), deixando a polícia em segundo lugar (21%) e Ministério Publico (17%).

Rob Ford and the loss of hope, Rick Salutin, September 24 2010.

[Some of this was published in the Globe and Mail.]

In his awesome book, India After Gandhi, Ramachandra Guha says, "The world over, modern democratic politics has been marked by two rather opposed rhetorical styles. The first appeals to hope, to popular aspirations for economic prosperity and social peace. The second appeals to fear ... about being worsted or swamped by one's historic enemies." That's about as good as generalizations get, except to add that the phases tend to succeed each other. They don't just coexist. It's the failure or shortfall of hope that leads to fear.

The pattern was set by the French Revolution. It sparked hope in onlookers like Edmund Burke and William Wordsworth. But its excesses soon led to anxious rethinking, as in Burke's conservatism; and harsh reactionary (literally) responses like invasion or domestic repression.

Barack Obama is a current case in point. But the transitions have accelerated. His campaign based on hope, in every possible variation, had scarcely won office when the fear mongering began: about his foreign birth, his "anti-white racism," the rise of the Tea Party. Look up a chilling piece by Dinesh d'Souza in Forbes, on the President channelling, more or less (mostly more) the "ghost" of his father, "a Luo tribesman of the 1950s ... philandering, inebriated African socialist ... setting the nation's agenda." This isn't just paranoid conspiracy theory, it's a right-wing version of voodoo. Barack Obama hasn't helped his cause by failing to deliver much on those hopes, but I think there's more to it: a loss of hopeful tone, once in office.

Now consider Rob Ford's big lead in the race to be Toronto's next mayor. His success is a reaction to frustration with current Mayor David Miller's hopeful rhetoric and the failure of visible change. Rob Ford won't change things, in fact he promises to unchange them. He's The Unchanger. He'll stop the patronizing jabber. ("He talks like us," said a voter. "He doesn't use words like partnerships and enhance.") He'll roll back the taxes that left streets dirty and public transit chancy. Most of all, in his Toronto, which implicitly aspires to be a sort of mini-India in its diversity, there'd be less immigration, to say the least.

The fear/Ford reaction was aided hugely by last June's street chaos and vandalism during the G20. It embodied, like Rob Ford, fear waiting to express itself. Where was Mayor Miller? Off in the media centre, whining about the damage to the city he loves and approving everything the police did, including nothing. What could he have done? How about being out in the streets he loves, just as he could have gone to the parks during the 2009 garbage strike, to help his fellow Torontonians cope -- and embody some hope?

It's as if the fight went out of him once his personal hope -- being mayor -- was achieved. But for most people, winning an election changes nothing; that's when the fight should intensify. Something similar seemed to happen to Barack Obama when he became president, as if his hope was the same as his voters'.

This is partly due to our political system: We get to vote occasionally for leaders, then leave it all in their hands, leading to excessive reliance on "them," and turning on them when things don't gel. A political culture of blame and rage is the upshot, rather than shared responsibility and the will to keep going. What could change that? Something more ongoingly, truly democratic, perhaps.

It's a bit too easy to take shots at Rob Ford. A larger target, if you'll pardon the expression, has rarely crossed the shooting range. What matters isn't what one thinks of him; it's understanding why he has bloomed so sturdily at this point. That's the kind of question that matters, because it bears on more than this political moment, and because it's more fun, in the end, to ponder.

Since I began these columns, now in their 20th year, I've tended to think of each as the last, which is now the case. I'm glad to end with the reasons for the Ford phenomenon, since I've always felt that saying what one thinks is cheap and easy. It's more useful to describe why one thinks it and, even better, how one thinks.

It's been a pleasure to (try to) share that experience with you.

Dear A.I.G., I Quit!, Jake DeSantis, March 13 2009.

Dear Mr. Liddy,

It is with deep regret that I submit my notice of resignation from A.I.G. Financial Products. I hope you take the time to read this entire letter. Before describing the details of my decision, I want to offer some context:

I am proud of everything I have done for the commodity and equity divisions of A.I.G.-F.P. I was in no way involved in — or responsible for — the credit default swap transactions that have hamstrung A.I.G. Nor were more than a handful of the 400 current employees of A.I.G.-F.P. Most of those responsible have left the company and have conspicuously escaped the public outrage.

After 12 months of hard work dismantling the company — during which A.I.G. reassured us many times we would be rewarded in March 2009 — we in the financial products unit have been betrayed by A.I.G. and are being unfairly persecuted by elected officials. In response to this, I will now leave the company and donate my entire post-tax retention payment to those suffering from the global economic downturn. My intent is to keep none of the money myself.

I take this action after 11 years of dedicated, honorable service to A.I.G. I can no longer effectively perform my duties in this dysfunctional environment, nor am I being paid to do so. Like you, I was asked to work for an annual salary of $1, and I agreed out of a sense of duty to the company and to the public officials who have come to its aid. Having now been let down by both, I can no longer justify spending 10, 12, 14 hours a day away from my family for the benefit of those who have let me down.

You and I have never met or spoken to each other, so I’d like to tell you about myself. I was raised by schoolteachers working multiple jobs in a world of closing steel mills. My hard work earned me acceptance to M.I.T., and the institute’s generous financial aid enabled me to attend. I had fulfilled my American dream.

I started at this company in 1998 as an equity trader, became the head of equity and commodity trading and, a couple of years before A.I.G.’s meltdown last September, was named the head of business development for commodities. Over this period the equity and commodity units were consistently profitable — in most years generating net profits of well over $100 million. Most recently, during the dismantling of A.I.G.-F.P., I was an integral player in the pending sale of its well-regarded commodity index business to UBS. As you know, business unit sales like this are crucial to A.I.G.’s effort to repay the American taxpayer.

The profitability of the businesses with which I was associated clearly supported my compensation. I never received any pay resulting from the credit default swaps that are now losing so much money. I did, however, like many others here, lose a significant portion of my life savings in the form of deferred compensation invested in the capital of A.I.G.-F.P. because of those losses. In this way I have personally suffered from this controversial activity — directly as well as indirectly with the rest of the taxpayers.

I have the utmost respect for the civic duty that you are now performing at A.I.G. You are as blameless for these credit default swap losses as I am. You answered your country’s call and you are taking a tremendous beating for it.

But you also are aware that most of the employees of your financial products unit had nothing to do with the large losses. And I am disappointed and frustrated over your lack of support for us. I and many others in the unit feel betrayed that you failed to stand up for us in the face of untrue and unfair accusations from certain members of Congress last Wednesday and from the press over our retention payments, and that you didn’t defend us against the baseless and reckless comments made by the attorneys general of New York and Connecticut.

My guess is that in October, when you learned of these retention contracts, you realized that the employees of the financial products unit needed some incentive to stay and that the contracts, being both ethical and useful, should be left to stand. That’s probably why A.I.G. management assured us on three occasions during that month that the company would “live up to its commitment” to honor the contract guarantees.

That may be why you decided to accelerate by three months more than a quarter of the amounts due under the contracts. That action signified to us your support, and was hardly something that one would do if he truly found the contracts “distasteful.”

That may also be why you authorized the balance of the payments on March 13.

At no time during the past six months that you have been leading A.I.G. did you ask us to revise, renegotiate or break these contracts — until several hours before your appearance last week before Congress.

I think your initial decision to honor the contracts was both ethical and financially astute, but it seems to have been politically unwise. It’s now apparent that you either misunderstood the agreements that you had made — tacit or otherwise — with the Federal Reserve, the Treasury, various members of Congress and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo of New York, or were not strong enough to withstand the shifting political winds.

You’ve now asked the current employees of A.I.G.-F.P. to repay these earnings. As you can imagine, there has been a tremendous amount of serious thought and heated discussion about how we should respond to this breach of trust.

As most of us have done nothing wrong, guilt is not a motivation to surrender our earnings. We have worked 12 long months under these contracts and now deserve to be paid as promised. None of us should be cheated of our payments any more than a plumber should be cheated after he has fixed the pipes but a careless electrician causes a fire that burns down the house.

Many of the employees have, in the past six months, turned down job offers from more stable employers, based on A.I.G.’s assurances that the contracts would be honored. They are now angry about having been misled by A.I.G.’s promises and are not inclined to return the money as a favor to you.

The only real motivation that anyone at A.I.G.-F.P. now has is fear. Mr. Cuomo has threatened to “name and shame,” and his counterpart in Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal, has made similar threats — even though attorneys general are supposed to stand for due process, to conduct trials in courts and not the press.

So what am I to do? There’s no easy answer. I know that because of hard work I have benefited more than most during the economic boom and have saved enough that my family is unlikely to suffer devastating losses during the current bust. Some might argue that members of my profession have been overpaid, and I wouldn’t disagree.

That is why I have decided to donate 100 percent of the effective after-tax proceeds of my retention payment directly to organizations that are helping people who are suffering from the global downturn. This is not a tax-deduction gimmick; I simply believe that I at least deserve to dictate how my earnings are spent, and do not want to see them disappear back into the obscurity of A.I.G.’s or the federal government’s budget. Our earnings have caused such a distraction for so many from the more pressing issues our country faces, and I would like to see my share of it benefit those truly in need.

On March 16 I received a payment from A.I.G. amounting to $742,006.40, after taxes. In light of the uncertainty over the ultimate taxation and legal status of this payment, the actual amount I donate may be less — in fact, it may end up being far less if the recent House bill raising the tax on the retention payments to 90 percent stands. Once all the money is donated, you will immediately receive a list of all recipients.

This choice is right for me. I wish others at A.I.G.-F.P. luck finding peace with their difficult decision, and only hope their judgment is not clouded by fear.

Mr. Liddy, I wish you success in your commitment to return the money extended by the American government, and luck with the continued unwinding of the company’s diverse businesses — especially those remaining credit default swaps. I’ll continue over the short term to help make sure no balls are dropped, but after what’s happened this past week I can’t remain much longer — there is too much bad blood. I’m not sure how you will greet my resignation, but at least Attorney General Blumenthal should be relieved that I’ll leave under my own power and will not need to be “shoved out the door.”

Jake DeSantis.

Climate Action Network, Newsletter excerpt, September 23 2010.

What Women Want

Recent U.S. polls are showing that women worry more that global warming will threaten their way of life during their lifetime than men (37% to 28%). Climate Action Network Canada itself has done some polling that has found that 75% of Canadian women under 35 feel that it is very important to solve climate change and 62% of the same demographic are more concerned than they were 2 years ago (compared to 65% and 55% in the same male age group)*.

Women around the world, especially in the global south are bearing the brunt of the impacts from climate change. Women and girls are walking farther and farther for water on a daily basis, they are suffering disproportionate impacts of threats to food security and violence and they are often being left completely outside of the negotiations about their futures.

In an opinion editorial this week in the Huffington Post, Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Wangari Maathai and Mary Robinson make a compelling case for why and how women can lead the way in tackling climate change:

"The absence of women, particularly those from the global South, from national and international discussions and decision-making on climate change and development must change. The battle to protect the environment is not solely about technological innovation -- it is also about empowering women and their communities to hold their governments accountable for results." more.

Climate change is about so much more than reducing our greenhouse gas pollution. It is about livelihoods, human rights and gender equality among many other things. Women make up more than half of the world's population and what women want and need is far beyond what our governments are currently offering.

Women Can Lead the Way in Tackling Development and Climate Challenges Together, Wangari Maathai & Mary Robinson, September 20 2010.

The time has come for women leaders to influence the narrative on climate change and how we address its impacts. The devastating floods in Pakistan illustrate how natural and man-made disasters can in a matter of days wipe out years of development progress. The floods in Pakistan have affected 20 million people -- equal to the population of New York state -- or nearly two-thirds of Canada. And while Pakistan is ranked among the poorest countries in the world, this tragedy has deepened the desperation of people already struggling to feed families and fend off disease.

Pakistan's story is, unfortunately, not unique. It is being repeated today in countries around the globe.

Decades of environmental mismanagement, combined with the increasing impacts of climate change, are putting social and economic development efforts at risk. Changing precipitation patterns are skewing traditional seasons and undermining the agricultural rhythms of farmers. More frequent extreme weather events like droughts, hurricanes, floods and cyclones are damaging lives, livelihoods and infrastructure.

From scientists to economists, those studying the phenomena recognize that developing countries, whose economies are already precarious and where so many people, especially women, depend directly on the natural world for food, water and fuel, are being hardest hit. It is poorer households and communities and, in many countries, indigenous groups already pushed to the most marginal lands, who are least able to cope. Progress towards achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) over the past decade is now threatened by environmental risks that undermine the resilience, and deplete the resources, of households and governments alike.

This week world leaders will gather at the United Nations in New York to take stock of progress towards achieving the MDGs over the past decade and agree on ways forward for the final five years to the 2015 targets. What hasn't been addressed sufficiently in the lead up to the MDG review is the fact that some of the biggest constraints to achieving these global development objectives - the impacts of climate change and other environment-related threats -- continue to be routinely sidelined in development policies and practice. Until this changes, there is little hope of permanent gains in many of the areas covered by the MDGs.

Women leaders must insist we address environmental and development challenges in tandem. That means, for example, integrating national MDG and Poverty Reduction Strategies with the national-level climate change adaptation plans of action being put in place in countries around the globe -- a process that happens all too infrequently today.

A more coherent approach also requires much greater attention and action to address the particular challenges facing women and girls and their role in advancing sustainable development. In Sub-Saharan Africa and other regions, drought exacerbated by climate change is contributing to chronic crop failures, deforestation and water shortages, with devastating impacts for girls and women. The primary food producers and procurers of water and fuel for cooking are women. Environmental changes are resulting in women being forced to travel farther to secure food, water and fuel for their families. This has been shown to have negative impacts on nutritional levels, educational attainment and work opportunities, to say nothing of quality of life issues overall.

But not only are women bearing the brunt of environmental and development setbacks -- they are also a powerful source of hope in tackling climate and other environmental threats, and their voices must be heard. As the success of the Greenbelt Movement in planting millions of trees in Kenya has demonstrated, women can be an extraordinary force for positive change. Their knowledge and experience are fundamental to mitigating the effects as well as adapting to the inevitable changes wrought in local communities by shifting climatic patterns.

The absence of women, particularly those from the global South, from national and international discussions and decision-making on climate change and development must change. The battle to protect the environment is not solely about technological innovation -- it is also about empowering women and their communities to hold their governments accountable for results. They can help ensure that other powerful actors such as the private sector act responsibly as well. To make a real difference, women need greater access to the education, resources and new technologies required to help design adaptation to a rapidly changing environment. Climate mitigation and adaptation strategies must be developed with women, not for them, and women must be involved alongside men in every stage of climate and development policy-making.

From the response in Pakistan to the UN Summit in New York, we must now recognize and act on the connections between climate change and development and ensure that women play a central role in shaping climate and environmental planning in the years ahead.

Proposition 23 poll shows a dead heat among California voters, Margot Roosevelt, September 24 2010.

California voters believe global warming is a significant issue and are inclined to trust scientific views on the subject, but they remain closely divided on a November ballot measure that would suspend the state's global warming statute, according to a new Los Angeles Times/University of Southern California poll.

California’s global warming law, passed in 2006, is aimed at slashing greenhouse gas emissions by power plants, factories and vehicles.

The ballot initiative, Proposition 23, would delay implementation of the law until California unemployment drops to 5.5% and stays at that level for a year. Unemployment is now over 12%, and a sustained level at or below 5.5% has rarely been achieved, so environmental advocates argue that the initiative would in effect put the law on indefinite hold.

More than two-thirds of likely voters in the survey said that global warming is a “very important” or “somewhat important” issue to them. And more than four in 10 likely voters said they have “complete” or “a lot” of trust in what scientists say on the subject, with more than two in 10 saying they have a “moderate” amount of trust.

On the ballot measure itself, the survey showed that about one-fifth of likely voters had not yet taken a position. Forty percent favor the initiative and 38% oppose it, essentially a dead heat. Typically, experts say that a ballot initiative that has less than 50% support at this stage of a campaign faces trouble because undecided voters usually -- although not always -- tend to end up voting no.

Full results of the Times/USC poll on the races for governor and U.S. Senate will be available Sunday.

Campaigns for and against Proposition 23 are just now gearing up. But candidates in California's sharply contested gubernatorial and Senate races are already attacking each other over Proposition 23, which is a litmus test for many green-leaning voters.

In the battle to succeed Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Democrat Jerry Brown opposes the measure. Republican Meg Whitman said Thursday that she will vote against the initiative, but would nonetheless suspend the global warming law for a year if she is elected.

In the Senate race, incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, opposes Prop. 23, while her GOP rival Carly Fiorina has endorsed it.

The initiative's main funders are Valero Energy Corp. and Tesoro Corp., two Texas-based oil companies with refineries in California, along with Koch Industries, a Kansas-based oil conglomerate that has fought federal climate change legislation.

The survey of 1,511 registered voters, including 887 considered likely voters, was conducted for The Times and the University of Southern California College of Letters, Arts & Sciences between September 15 and 22. The polling was conducted by two national survey research firms, the Democratic firm of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and the Republican firm American Viewpoint. The margin of error for the likely voter sample is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are trapping heat in the Earth's atmosphere, warming temperatures on land and in the oceans, according to scientific studies. California has begun to feel the effects, with rising sea levels, the disruption of habitats for plants and animals, and diminishing mountain snowpacks that are critical to the state's water supply.

California's global warming law, also known as AB 32, is the most sweeping in the nation, requiring greenhouse gas pollution to be slashed to 1990 levels by the end of the decade, and setting a goal of an 80% reduction by mid-century.

Over time, the law would affect nearly every industry and household in the state, with regulations to cut the carbon intensity of gasoline, require auto companies to build more fuel-efficient cars, force electrical utilities to switch to solar and wind energy, make buildings and appliances more energy-efficient and encourage denser development with access to public transportation.

The findings of the Los Angeles Times/USC poll are similar to a July poll by the Public Policy Institute of California, a non-partisan think tank. Two-thirds of Californians in the PPIC survey said they favored the existing greenhouse gas law, but likely voters were evenly split on whether the state should “take action right away” or “wait until the state economy and job situation improve to take action.”

The Brothers Koch and AB 32, NYT Editorial, September 20 2010.

Four years ago, bipartisan majorities in the California Legislature approved a landmark clean energy bill that many hoped would serve as a template for a national effort to reduce dependence on foreign oil and mitigate the threat of climate change.

Now a well-financed coalition of right-wing ideologues, out-of-state oil and gas companies and climate-change skeptics is seeking to effectively kill that law with an initiative on the November state ballot. The money men include Charles and David Koch, the Kansas oil and gas billionaires who have played a prominent role in financing the Tea Party movement.

The 2006 law, known as AB 32, is aimed at reducing California’s emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020 and by 80 percent at midcentury. To reach these targets, state agencies are drawing up regulations that would affect businesses and consumers across the board — requiring even cleaner cars, more energy-efficient buildings and appliances, and power plants that use alternative energy sources like wind instead of older fossil fuels.

The prospect that these rules could reduce gasoline consumption strikes terror into some energy companies. A large chunk of the $8.2 million raised in support of the ballot proposition has come from just two Texas-based oil and gas companies, Valero and Tesoro, which have extensive operations in California. The Koch brothers have contributed about $1 million, partly because they worry about damage to the bottom line at Koch Industries, and also because they believe that climate change is a left-wing hoax.

They have argued that the law will lead to higher energy costs and job losses, arguments that resonate with many voters in a state with a 12.4 percent unemployment rate. But this overlooks the enormous increase in investments in clean energy technologies — and the jobs associated with them — since the law was passed.

Overturning AB 32 would be another setback in the effort to fight climate change. The United States Senate has already scuttled President Obama’s goal of putting a price on carbon. The Environmental Protection Agency, while important, can only do so much. This leaves state and regional efforts as crucially important drivers — and if California pulls back, other states like New York that are trying to reduce emissions may do so as well.

The Kochs and their allies are disastrously wrong about the science, which shows that man-made emissions are largely responsible for global warming, and wrong about the economics. AB 32’s many friends — led by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California — have therefore mounted a spirited counterattack in defense of the law.

Another respected Republican, George Shultz — a cabinet member in both the Nixon and Reagan administrations — has signed on as a co-chairman of this effort. Mr. Shultz credits AB 32 for an unprecedented “outburst” of technological creativity and investment.

Who wins if this law is repudiated? The Koch brothers, maybe, but the biggest winners will be the Chinese, who are already moving briskly ahead in the clean technology race. And the losers? The people of California, surely. But the biggest loser will be the planet.

Clean air law is key to our future, George P. Shultz, September 12 2010.

California's vision of a cleaner environment and reduced dependence on foreign oil and dirty fuels is now under attack. Make no mistake: Proposition 23 seeks to derail our future through a process of indefinite postponement of our state's clean energy and clean air standards. A future for California based on clean-power technologies is both an economic and environmental necessity.

It's about preserving clean air for our kids and fostering good jobs for our workers. It's about a California that leads the world in the next great global industry and in facing the next great global challenge. The effort to derail it would be a tragic mistake.

Don't let it happen.

In the United States, we face three major energy issues. Our economy is disrupted by periodically spiking oil prices. Our national security is threatened by dependence on uncertain sources of oil and by the flow of funds to oil-providing countries that do not wish us well. Indirectly, potential terrorist groups are also funded and strengthened. Our climate is threatened by the destructive impact of global warming caused by the accumulation of CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels. These ongoing problems are real, important and potentially severe. Yes, severe. As Sen. John McCain put it in a May 2008 speech in Portland, Oregon:

"We have many advantages in the fight against global warming, but time is not one of them. Instead of idly debating the precise extent of global warming, or the precise timeline of global warming, we need to deal with the central facts of rising temperatures, rising waters and all the endless trouble that global warming will bring. We stand warned by serious and credible scientists across the world that time is short and the dangers are great."

As Sen. Richard Lugar wrote in the Washington Post in February last year: "In March 2006, I characterized America's excessive reliance on oil as the albatross of national security."

When oil prices soared to a peak of nearly $150 a barrel last summer, oil riches emboldened authoritarian rulers from Venezuela to Iran to the genocidal regime in Sudan. Poor countries struggling to grow were crushed by the weight of oil import expenses. Allies in Europe have gone cold this winter as Russia wielded its near monopoly on gas supplies as a political weapon. And our own economic woes were exacerbated as we shipped billions of dollars overseas to pay our oil bills.

But these are national and international issues, the naysayers argue, so why should California worry about them? We are one state in 50, and we can't solve these problems by ourselves. But we are not powerless. Our system of federal government is built, in part, on the idea and the experiences of creativity from the bottom up – from innovative individuals, companies and states. We can lead the way in using creative ideas to tackle these problems without harm to our economy. In fact, we have been leading the way.

At first, California's establishment of carbon emissions standards for cars and trucks, which far exceeded the federal requirement, drew a hostile response from the federal government. But early this year, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the EPA followed California's lead and announced national emissions standards that will bring us a cleaner fleet of automobiles. So California's example has had a positive and constructive impact.

There is a long history here of the pessimists underestimating what American ingenuity can do. In the congressional debate over the 1990 Clean Air Act, auto industry executives claimed that reducing auto emissions would have a devastating impact. Congress passed laws that called for a 39 percent reduction in hydrocarbons and a 60 percent reduction in nitrogen oxides in auto emissions. The auto industry met its emissions reductions targets and enjoyed record profits for the next decade. The lesson of history is very clear: Every time we challenge American industries with higher standards, they meet them earlier, for less money and invent new products for export along the way.

California's clean energy and clean air standards will start being phased in next year. The system will have the effect of gradually putting a higher and higher price on the emission of carbon. It can be designed so as to operate on a revenue-neutral basis, that is, so as not to take private money out of the economy. Many other ways of phasing in requirements have been identified so as to minimize short-term drag on the economy and to soften the impact of adjustment to new requirements.

In the meantime, the inevitability that rigorous requirements will soon be put in place here and elsewhere in the world has already led to an outburst of creative activity that itself both stimulates investment and jobs with a future and lowers the cost of reducing our carbon footprint. Businesses are looking for leadership and a clear road map such as that provided by our state's policy so that they can be positioned to prosper in the clean energy economy.

Energetic implementation of new technology is needed. New ways of producing electricity and using it far more efficiently are clearly in prospect, not just on the horizon. New methods are being developed for using genomic tools to produce liquid fuel from biomass and even from algae. New business models are being created to take advantage of technological changes, including cars that rely wholly or in part on electric generation.

In the four years since California's clean air standards were passed, clean energy investment has tripled. About three of every five venture capital dollars nationwide has been invested in California companies, with about $2.1 billion worth of clean energy investments in 2009 alone. Our state's policies are helping draw this activity to California. The United States and, I say proudly, California have always been world leaders in creativity and dynamism, reveling in finding new ways to accomplish important objectives. Now another important effort needs our support.

I remember from my time as secretary of state our success, led by President Ronald Reagan, in dealing with the potential adverse effects of depletion of stratospheric ozone. Yes, as now, there were arguments among scientists about the imminence of the threat. Those who were deeply worried turned out to be right. The necessary agreement, called the Montreal Protocol, came into effect in the nick of time. President Reagan supported our effort from the start to finish and acclaimed the result to be "a monumental achievement."

We have plenty of problems in California, not least the huge unfunded liabilities confronting the taxpayer. But we will only compound our problems if we abandon our aspirations for the quality of our environment. Our future is with a knowledge economy, and there is one thing we know for sure: Knowledge workers have lots of choices where to live, and they like to live in environments with clean air and green spaces. "Silicon Valley" did not sprout in Silicon Valley by accident.

Those who wish to repeal our state's clean energy laws through postponement to some fictitious future are running up the white flag of surrender to a polluted environment. We do not need this defeatist initiative with its sense of pessimism and its can't-do attitude. We need Ronald Reagan's spirit of determination laced with optimism. As he used to say, "America's best days are ahead." And so are California's.

Schwarzenegger defends climate law, slams Texans, Peter Fimrite, September 28 2010.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger used the fourth anniversary of the passage of California's landmark climate change law to slam Texas oil companies Valero and Tesoro for what he described as cynical attempts to manipulate voters into abandoning the law.

The governor's vehement defense of the climate legislation commonly referred to as AB32 comes amid a fierce campaign led by oil interests to win passage in November of Proposition 23, a ballot measure that calls for suspending the climate law until the jobless rate hits 5.5 percent for a year, a level achieved only three times in 40 years.

Schwarzenegger, speaking before several hundred people at the Commonwealth Club in Santa Clara, said the proponents of Prop. 23 are attempting to subvert the democratic process using scare tactics. He likened the campaign to a shell game hiding what he said was the real purpose: "self-serving greed."

"They are creating a shell argument that they are doing this to protect jobs," the governor said. "Does anybody really believe they are doing this out of the goodness of their black oil hearts - spending millions and millions of dollars to save jobs?"

Schwarzenegger said AB32, which he signed into law in 2006, will create jobs by allowing California to establish a "green economy" featuring solar energy, hydrogen power, bio-energy and a renewable electricity standard that will provide "the seed money for the world's energy revolution."

The only job losses or costs, he said, would be in polluting industries like Valero Energy Corp. and Tesoro Corp., both of which have refineries in California that climate experts say are sources of greenhouse gas emissions.

AB32 calls for the state to reduce carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Among other things, it requires the California Air Resources Board to establish and enforce limits on carbon emissions - regulations that will begin to go into effect in 2012. Seven Western states and four Canadian provinces have joined California in writing regulations in anticipation of a regional effort to curb emissions.

One contentious issue is a so-called "cap and trade" system, which would establish a market in which businesses that pollute would buy credits from companies that cut their emissions. Congress chose not to pursue laws against greenhouse gas emissions in part because of that controversial issue. Some states in the regional pact have since wavered, including Arizona, which has said it would not support cap-and-trade.

The two oil companies behind the effort to suspend AB32 are among those who would be obliged under cap-and-trade to clean up operations or pay significant new fees.

Schwarzenegger praised President Obama for his support of climate change legislation but was highly critical of Congress for dropping the bill, a situation he said was due to blatant partisanship.

"Right now in Washington nothing gets done," he said. "It doesn't mean that we should give up. California is the leader."

The Terminator vs. Big Oil, Thomas L. Friedman, October 5 2010.

The Terminator, aka the Governator, is not happy. And you shouldn’t be either.

What has Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California incensed is the fact that two Texas oil companies with two refineries each in California are financing a campaign to roll back California’s landmark laws to slow global warming and promote clean energy innovation, because it would require the refiners to install new emission-control tools. At a time when President Obama and Congress have failed to pass a clean energy bill, California’s laws are the best thing we have going to stimulate clean-tech in America. We don’t want them gutted. C’mon in. This is a fight worth having.

Here are the basics: Next month Californians will vote on “Prop 23,” a proposal to effectively kill implementation of California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, known as A.B. 32. It was supported by Republicans, Democrats, businesses and environmentalists. Prop 23 proposes to suspend implementation of A.B. 32 until California achieves four consecutive quarters of unemployment below 5.5 percent. It is currently above 12 percent. (Sorry for all the numbers. Just remember: A.B. 32, good; Prop 23, bad.)

A.B. 32 was designed to put California on a path to reducing greenhouse gases in its air to 1990 levels by 2020. This would make the state a healthier place, and a more innovative one. Since A.B. 32 was passed, investors have poured billions of dollars into making new technologies to meet these standards.

“It is very clear that the oil companies from outside the state that are trying to take out A.B. 32, and trying to take out our environmental laws, have no interest in suspending it, but just to get rid of it,” Governor Schwarzenegger said at an energy forum we both participated in last week in Sacramento, sponsored by its energetic mayor, Kevin Johnson. “They want to kill A.B. 32. Otherwise they wouldn’t put this provision in there about the 5.5 percent unemployment rate. It’s very rare that California in the last 40 years had an unemployment rate of below 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters. They’re not interested in our environment; they are only interested in greed and filling their pockets with more money.

“And they are very deceptive when they say they want to go and create more jobs in California,” the governor added. “Since when has [an] oil company ever been interested in jobs? Let’s be honest. If they really are interested in jobs, they would want to protect A.B. 32, because actually it’s green technology that is creating the most jobs right now in California, 10 times more than any other sector.”

No, this is not about jobs. As, a progressive research center, reported: Two Texas oil companies, Valero and Tesoro, “have led the charge against the landmark climate law, along with Koch Industries, the giant oil conglomerate owned by right-wing megafunders Charles and David Koch. Koch recently donated $1 million to the effort and has been supporting front groups involved in the campaign.”

Fortunately, Californians from across the political spectrum are trying to raise money to defeat Prop 23, but the vote could be close. George Shultz, a former secretary of state during the Reagan administration, has taken a leading role in the campaign against Prop 23. (See:

“Prop 23 is designed to kill by indefinite postponement California’s effort to clean up the environment,” said Mr. Shultz. “This effort is financed heavily by money from out of state. You have to conclude that the financiers are less concerned about California than they are about the fact that if we get something that is working here to clean up the air and launch a clean-tech industry, it will go national and maybe international. So the stakes are high. I hope we can win here and send a message to the whole country that it’s time to put aside partisan politics and get an energy bill out of Washington.”

Dan Becker, a veteran environmental lobbyist, echoes that view: “Now that industry and their friends in Congress have blocked progress there, the hope for action moves to the states” and the Environmental Protection Agency. “Unfortunately,” he added, “polluter lobbyists are tight on our heels. They’ve offered Senate amendments to block the E.P.A. from using the Clean Air Act to cut power plant pollution. Since that failed, they are trying to block California from moving forward. ... If the people of California see through the misrepresentations of the oil industry, it throws climate denialism off the tracks and opens the door for a return to a science-based approach to the climate. It would be a triumph for the National Academy of Sciences over the National Academy of Fraud.”

The real joke is thinking that if California suspends its climate laws that Mother Nature will also take a timeout. “We can wait to solve this problem as long as we want,” says Nate Lewis, an energy chemist at the California Institute of Technology: “But Nature is balancing its books every day. It was a record 113 degrees in Los Angeles the other day. There are laws of politics and laws of physics. Only the latter can’t be repealed.”

No comments: