Logue wants air rules to face popular vote

Assemblyman Dan Logue

Assemblyman Dan Logue is looking to put AB 32, the 2006 state legislation meant to address emissions and global warming on a statewide basis, before voters next year.

Logue, R-Linda, said the economic impacts associated with AB32 are such he wants voters to decide whether it should be in effect while the economy is in a recession.

"This has been the blind leading the blind, political correctness that has collapsed the economy in California," Logue said. "California already has the fifth-cleanest air in the country, so why are we doing this when no one else is?"

Logue, who's joined with government reform measure veteran Ted Costa in the effort, said he wants a ballot measure next November that would tie implementation of AB 32 to the state unemployment rate.

The state's unemployment rate now is 12.3 percent, and many economists believe California's unemployment is likely to remain above double digits well into 2010. The Yuba-Sutter region's rate is among the highest in the state, ranging from 17 percent to 18 percent.

If the measure Logue proposes makes the ballot and passes, AB 32 would be suspended until the state unemployment rate drops to 5.5 percent or lower for four consecutive quarters.

As described in a state Air Resources Board fact sheet, AB 32 seeks to cap state-created greenhouse gases by 2020, based on 1990 emissions. Steps taken by the state to fulfill that goal, such as retrofits on diesel engines and new devices on gas pumps, have already encountered strong resistance from business groups.

AB 32 will cost the state more than 1 million jobs in its implementation, a foolish venture when so many are already out of work, Logue said.

"The upside is minuscule compared to the downside," he said.

Though Congress and President Obama are working a climate-change bill with many of the same goals as AB 32, Logue said what's proposed there isn't as onerous to the economy. And though reducing air emissions would suggest the growth of green energy jobs in California, Logue said studies show such jobs are often heavily subsidized by government rather than private enterprise.

"I'm all for green energy, but don't do it in a way that destroys the economy," he said.

But environmental groups that supported AB 32 dispute some of Logue's contentions.

Derek Walker, director of California climate initiatives with the Environmental Defense Fund in Sacramento, said green energy and related industries still draw private investment even as the economy sputters.

"They've had less trouble in the current downturn because that's the direction things are moving," Walker said, adding much of the current unemployment stems from the downturn in housing. The people who used to build houses, Walker said, are more likely to find jobs installing windmills, putting in solar panels and other areas needed to help reach AB 32 compliance.

And Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, wrote in her blog in August that "green" jobs are growing 2.5 times faster than traditional jobs, and such industries had attracted more than $6.5 billion in venture capital in the state since 2006.

"Some of the same industry lobbyists who opposed AB 32 in the first place are now claiming that California can't afford to move into the energy future, that it must give up its role as the nation's leading innovator," Beinecke wrote in a blog entry titled, Five Reasons Why AB 32 Will Boost California's Economy. "What they are really saying is no to jobs and opportunities for Californians."

Logue said the measure, tentatively titled California Jobs Initiative, has been submitted to the state Attorney General's office for official ballot title and summary to appear on initiative petitions.

He said supporters could begin collecting signatures for the measure within weeks; under state law, initiative supporters will have 150 days to collect the required number of signatures of registered voters.

Depending on whether the initiative amends the state constitution or a statute, it would need either 694,354 or 433,971 signatures, respectively. The deadline to qualify for the Nov. 2, 2010, ballot is June 24.

What's happening?

THE ISSUE: Assemblyman Dan Logue, R-Linda, is sponsoring a ballot initiative to tie implementation of AB 32, the 2006 legislation meant to address greenhouse gases, to the state's unemployment rate.

WHAT'S AT STAKE: While the economy is in a deep recession, Logue says, the state can't afford AB 32 and its effects on economic development.

WHAT'S NEXT: Supporters of the ballot initiative could begin collecting signatures in the next month, with Logue aiming to put it before voters in November 2010.

Contact Appeal-Democrat reporter Ben van der Meer at 749-4709 or bvandermeer@appealdemocrat.com.

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