Terminate the ballot initiative to terminate the climate law?
He may be a lame duck, but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger gave notice Wednesday that he's going out fighting -- battling the alliance of oil companies, conservative activists and fellow Republicans who are gathering signatures for a November ballot initiative to overturn California's landmark global warming law. The 2006 law, which the Hummer-driving governor considers a highlight of his administration, would slash the state's carbon footprint by 15% in the next decade. And in the process it would spur the sort of green-tech businesses that Schwarzenegger sees as the key to the state's economic future.
Schwarzenegger on Wednesday toured one of those businesses, the Sunnyvale-based Serious Materials, a company recently selected to retrofit the Empire State Building's 6,514 windows to make them more energy efficient. And while he was at it, he riffed on AB 32, the climate law, and its enemies. "When you have those laws," he said, "you have to go and protect them. Right now, there’s for instance, Texas oil companies that want to invest millions and millions of dollars and bring them in here and have TV commercials on them and convince the people to roll back AB 32."
In an attack on Valero Energy Corp. and Tesoro Corp., two Texas-based oil companies that have contributed at least $700,000 together to the initiative effort so far, Schwarzenegger continued: "And isn’t that interesting that it’s a Texas oil company, and other Texas oil companies, that want to roll back our environmental progress that we are making? Why is that? Do you think they care about California, or do you think they care only about profits? They are greedy. They are greedy. If you look at the movie 'Wall Street,' it shows you about greed. That’s what they are. Texan oil companies."
Referring to Los Angeles' Occidental Petroleum, which joined the initiative effort late last week with a $300,000 contribution, Schwarzenegger added, "And there is some other California oil companies that are jumping on the bandwagon. But we are going to fight back. Environmentalists and business leaders, there are so many businesses in California that have supported AB 32. We are all going to join and push back. Because in 2003 when I became governor, I made it clear that if the special interests push me around I am going to push back. That’s exactly what we are going to do. We’re going to push back.”
The governor took the occasion of the tour to sign SB 77, a bill sponsored by state Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Santa Monica) to establish the state-wide Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, reserve program to reduce financing costs for businesses and residents making energy efficiency improvements.
Environmentalists have started a website, BoycottValero.com, to organize a consumer protest against gasoline stations owned by Valero, Tesoro and other companies connected with the initiative campaign. Earth Day protests at Valero stations Thursday are being mounted by the Los Angeles-based Courage Campaign and other groups.
Photo: An official from Serious Materials shows Gov. Schwarzenegger a design for energy-efficient windows. Credit: Governor's office