CARB Readies 1,000 page AB32 Rulemaking

Get ready for a CARB AB32 Rules cram down ahead!

Politico reports that the California’s Air Resources Board (CARB) will publish more than 1,000 pages of proposed rules to reduce greenhouse gases at California power plants and other large industrial sites just as the polls close November 2nd where Proposition 23 is on the ballot. The CARB staff proposal is expected by the end of October according to the CARB spokesman Stanley Young. The staff proposal then starts a 45-day public comment period before the 11-member CARB board can take a final vote on the regulations and any changes at their December 16-17 meeting.

If adopted Prop 23 would suspend AB32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act, until unemployment falls below 5.5% for four consecutive quarters. AB 32 requires reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in California by 25% by 2020 and imposes a cap and trade strategy to achieve the goals.  CARB would have the authority to administratively set carbon emissions fees sufficient to achieve the desired reduction targets.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has been a strong proponent of AB32.  So he has spoken out strongly against Proposition 23. The Governor has reason to be hopeful despite the sour economy.  The California Field Poll taken September 26th reported that voters are more likely to vote No on Prop 23 (34% in favor to 45% opposed) despite a strong sentiment among likely voters that the economy is going in the wrong direction. Instead, voters seem inclined to vote to legalize marijuana (Field Poll: 49% to 42%). The Public Policy Institute of California poll shows similar trends (PPIC Poll: 52% to 41%) with Proposition 19, and tax its production, distribution, and sale.

But there is a catch. . .

The October 5th 2010 California Field Poll found that 93% of those surveyed described California as being in bad economic times and only 26% think the state’s economy will get better in the year ahead. Nine in ten Californians (89%) said unemployment is a very serious problem and only 29% think it will improve next year.

With that backdrop the major hurdle facing AB 32 implementation is the growing public perception that it is a jobs killer that is making California increasingly less competitive.  Voters may not be willing to junk the law this November but failure of Prop 23 does not mean the issue will go away by any means.