Brown calls on Whitman to take stand on oil industry-backed initiative to suspend climate law

By Robert Jablon, AP
Monday, September 20, 2010

Brown calls on Whitman to state view on Prop. 23

LOS ANGELES — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown challenged Republican Meg Whitman on Monday to take a stand on a November ballot initiative that would undermine California’s landmark global warming law.

The former eBay CEO should publicly state her position on Proposition 23, Brown said at a news conference in which he blasted the initiative as threatening California’s environment and economy.

Valero Energy Corp. and Tesoro Corp., Texas-based oil companies that have operations in California, are the primary backers of Proposition 23, which seeks to suspend a 2006 law intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions statewide over the next decade. Some business groups have said it will impose steep costs on industry and drive energy prices higher for consumers.

The ballot initiative would delay the regulations until California’s unemployment rate drops to 5.5 percent and stays there for four consecutive quarters — something that has happened just three times during the last three decades.

Whitman previously said the law, referred to as AB32, “kills jobs in certain industries.” If elected, she said she would enact a one-year moratorium to assess its effect on the state’s economy.

Whitman has taken no official position on Proposition 23, but her campaign said she intends to state her positions on all the November ballot measures by early next week.

Brown, speaking at a solar power business in Los Angeles, argued that AB32 has helped create green-energy businesses and that suspending it would harm California’s economy.

He urged Whitman to speak out on Proposition 23, which he termed a “noxious” effort by oil companies to eliminate AB32.

“They don’t give a damn about California. They care about their pocket, and Meg Whitman seems to be going along with that,” Brown said. “Now, I assume she’ll probably join my position here. But the quicker and the clearer, the better.”

A one-year moratorium would be a “gimmick,” Brown added.

“If she’s for it, say so. If she wants to stop AB32, let’s here why and for how long,” he said.

Whitman’s campaign responded by saying the Republican candidate believes a balance can be struck between environmental and economic concerns.

“California is in a jobs crisis and we cannot afford to make it worse. She proposed a one-year moratorium so California can get it right with a strategy that focuses on innovation, not just regulation,” campaign spokesman Darrel Ng said in a statement.

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