Whitman Opposes Measure Delaying California Climate Law

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California Republican Party gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman speaks during a women's town hall at Cristek Interconnects on September 16, 2010 in Anaheim. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

California Republican Party gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman speaks during a women’s town hall at Cristek Interconnects on September 16, 2010 in Anaheim. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

SACRAMENTO (AP) – Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman on Thursday came out against a ballot initiative that would indefinitely delay California’s landmark global warming law, saying she supports a more limited suspension.

Whitman has long advocated suspending the 2006 law for a year if she is elected governor, but she has deflected questions about her stance on Proposition 23. Her rival Jerry Brown, the Democratic state attorney general, earlier this week challenged her to take a position.

In a statement, the former chief executive of eBay said the ballot initiative fails to offer a sensible balance for protecting jobs and the environment.

“It is too simple of a solution for a complex problem,” Whitman said. “I believe that my plan to fix AB32 strikes the right balance for California.”

Proposition 23, which is primarily funded by Texas oil companies Valero Energy Corp. and Tesoro Corp., would delay the global warming law, known as AB32, until California’s unemployment falls to 5.5 percent and stays there for a year. That has only happened three times during the last three decades.

Appearing at a solar power business on Monday in Los Angeles, Brown argued that AB32 has helped create green-energy businesses and suspending it would harm California’s economy. He also called Whitman’s idea for a one-year moratorium a “gimmick.”

KCBS Doug Sovern Reporting:

California’s global warming law contains a provision that allows a governor to suspend the law for a year if its implementation would result in harm to California’s economy. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who signed the law to great fanfare in 2006, has not invoked that trigger.

The law requires the state to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2020. The California Air Resources Board is currently developing regulations to implement it, including a cap-and-trade market, an idea that has failed to gain traction in Congress.

Brown spokesman Sterling Clifford said Thursday that Whitman’s position is confusing to voters.

“In the same press release where she claims to oppose repealing AB32, she calls for a suspension of AB32,” Clifford said. “The bottom-line is no one knows what Meg Whitman’s position really is.”

Whitman’s stance is in contrast to fellow Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina, who earlier this month announced her support of the initiative. She argues a state-only approach to global warming would cost California jobs.

Studies have reached different conclusions about whether the law would lead to job losses in California or would end up promoting job growth over the long term by giving a boost to the green-technology industry.

Former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz, a Republican who is leading the opposition to Proposition 23, issued a statement praising Whitman for “joining our bipartisan effort to stand up to Texas oil companies and protect California’s job-creating clean energy economy and clean air standards.”

Whitman also took positions on other November ballot measures, saying she opposes Proposition 21, which would impose an $18 vehicle license surcharge to help fund state parks. In exchange, vehicles with California license plates would get free admission and parking to state parks and beaches.

After touring Columbia State Historic Park over Labor Day weekend, Whitman told reporters that state parks could be adequately funded if government were run more efficiently.

Schwarzenegger last year threatened to close 220 of California’s state parks to help close the state’s budget deficit. Instead, he imposed service cuts and reduced operating hours at parks that have extensive maintenance backlogs.

“Far too often, Californians are asked to foot the bill when Sacramento fails to manage the state budget,” Whitman spokesman Darrel Ng said Thursday. “As governor, she will set priorities for state spending so that we can count on having the necessary resources to protect and improve our parks system.”

She also opposes Proposition 19, which would legalize marijuana; Proposition 24, which would repeal tax breaks approved by the Legislature as part of the 2008 and 2009 budgets; Proposition 25, which would change the legislative vote requirement to pass a budget from two-thirds to a simple majority; and Proposition 27, which would repeal a voter-approved redistricting commission.

Whitman supports Proposition 20, which calls for the independent redistricting commission to draw congressional boundaries; Proposition 22, which would bar the state from seizing or borrowing money from local governments; and Proposition 26, which would increase the voting threshold for raising state and local fees.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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