As I said a couple of weeks ago after Arnie’s eco-rendezvous with the British PM, the real measure of the governor’s greenness will be in the passage of several bills being deliberated in Sacramento right now.
In the next ten days, assembly members will decide whether The Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32 [PDF])and the Clean Alternate Energy Act (Prop 87 [PDF]), among others, will arrive at Schwarzenegger’s desk intact or as grossly watered-down versions. According to this story in the L.A. Times, business groups and even the California Chamber of Commerce are putting major pressure on the governor to reign in those legislators who would be so brash as to listen to their constituency (a poll conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California and released in mid-July indicated that 80% of likely voters support these climate change bills).
Schwarzenegger is indeed straddling a barbed fence: on the one hand, he can ill afford to alienate the businessmen who support his campaign, yet on the other, public opinion is strongly anti-global warming.
His solution seems to have been to craft an alternate version of AB 32 with a “safety valve that would allow deadlines for capping greenhouse gas emissions to be extended if an administration-dominated Climate Action Board decided that limits would harm the economy.”
Meanwhile, Schwarzenegger’s rival in the upcoming election, Democrat Phil Angelides, proposes to support the bill as is.
California voters — except maybe those who read Grist or follow the newspapers carefully — seem largely oblivious to this momentous legislation now being debated. But I guess that’s often the case at the national level too.
I have tried to keep up with pending environmental legislation by subscribing to emails from the Natural Resource Defense Council, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the League of Conservation Voters. I have sent emails to my Congressmen in D.C., my state level representatives, my governor, and even my president (no response yet from GW, but Barbara Boxer, Fran Pavley, Henry Waxman, and Diane Feinstein have all been courteous enough at least to extend electronic replies).
But all my email activism amounts to very little, I’m afraid, since Pavley is the co-sponsor of AB 32 and Waxman, Boxer, and Feinstein all have pending global warming legislation on Capitol Hill. I am only preaching to the choir.
So I began to ponder if I could send my plea to a Republican assembly member. What if I were to enter a different zip code in one of those handy-dandy little boxes at the NRDC and UCS websites? In fact, I had just moved from a Republican-held district into a Democratic one, so out of curiosity, I decided to enter my old zip. And what happened? Well, zip.
Not that I would ever promote abusing the systems set up by these environmental advocacy groups, but what is to prevent someone from going online and repeating this process hundreds of times over, to cover all swing districts?
Perhaps the NRDC et al. figure people generally have better things to do with their time than spam politicians. Or maybe there is a built-in fraud guard that I don’t know about (although nothing at all happened when I sent a letter from my old address). Or maybe I’d better get typing. This package of global warming bills is too important to do nothing about.