Whitman says she’s against sus­pend­ing state’s law, but he al­leges dou­ble-speak.

Los Angeles Times - - Late Extra - Michael J. Mishak re­port­ing from ne­wark, calif.

Even as both ma­jor gu­ber­na­to­rial can­di­dates are op­pos­ing a Novem­ber bal­lot pro­posal that would sus­pend Cal­i­for­nia’s global warm­ing law, the land­mark en­vi­ron­men­tal mea­sure re­mains a salient is­sue in the cam­paign, ex­pos­ing key dif­fer­ences over how the next gover­nor would shape en­ergy pol­icy.

Demo­crat Jerry Brown has fully em­braced the 2006 law, which aims to re­duce green­house gas emis­sions to 1990 lev­els over the next decade. And he is us­ing the is­sue to drive a wedge be­tween Repub­li­can ri­val Meg Whitman and the state’s en­vi­ron­men­tally con­scious vot­ers.

Whitman is try­ing to walk a finer line. She dodged the is­sue for months be­fore an­nounc­ing Thurs­day that she op­poses the Novem­ber sus­pen­sion mea­sure, Propo­si­tion 23.

Try­ing to be “smart and green,” the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee has pro­posed a oneyear mora­to­rium on the law, main­tain­ing that it is a “job killer” in the state’s sour econ­omy and needs to be tweaked to pro­tect busi­nesses from in­cur­ring too many costs. At the same time, she has called her­self an en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist on the cam­paign trail.

The is­sue is po­lit­i­cally po­tent and could move vot­ers in a race that is locked in a dead heat. Ac­cord­ing to a July poll by the Pub­lic Pol­icy In­sti­tute of Cal­i­for­nia, twothirds of Cal­i­for­ni­ans fa­vor the global warm­ing law.

Its pas­sage was rec­og­nized around the world as a sem­i­nal event. It was cre­ated as a plat­form for Cal­i­for­nia to push other states and other coun­tries to take an ag­gres­sive stance against global warm­ing.

On Thurs­day, Brown

used the coun­try’s largest pri­vately owned roof­ing and so­lar com­pany as a back­drop to rail against the sus­pen­sion pro­posal and pro­mote his re­new­able en­ergy plan, which he says would cre­ate 500,000 jobs over the next decade in part by re­quir­ing the state to re­ceive a third of its power from re­new­able sources.

“It’s a small com­pany,” he said of Petersen Dean Roof­ing and So­lar Sys­tems in the Bay Area city of Ne­wark, “but it’s thou­sands of small com­pa­nies like this that build the econ­omy.”

He ac­cused Whitman of en­gag­ing in “dou­ble-talk” on the global warm­ing law, say­ing that a mora­to­rium would freeze in­vest­ment in the bur­geon­ing green econ­omy.

“Stop and start is ex­actly what peo­ple hate about govern­ment,” said Brown, sur­rounded by so­lar panel dis­plays out­side the com­pany’s ware­house. “I think we have to have a clear man­date, a clear sig­nal that Cal­i­for­nia is open for busi­ness in re­new­able en­ergy.”

Whitman, who had no pub­lic events Thurs­day, is­sued a state­ment fo­cused on the eco­nomic down­turn.

“This is not an easy is­sue,” the state­ment said. “While green jobs are an im­por­tant and grow­ing part of our state’s eco­nomic fu­ture, we can­not for­get the other 97% of jobs in key sec­tors like man­u­fac­tur­ing, agri­cul­ture, trans­porta­tion and en­ergy. We com­pete for jobs with many other states, and our en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­icy must re­flect that re­al­ity.”

Bruce Cain, a po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist at UC Berkeley, said Whitman’s com­pro­mise po­si­tion could res­onate with in­de­pen­dents, a vot­ing group the can­di­dates are split­ting, ac­cord­ing to a Field Poll re­leased Thurs­day.

“She is try­ing to split the baby,” Cain said.

As for Brown, Cain said the can­di­date’s stri­dent stance could help him woo back Democrats who in­tend to vote for his op­po­nent.

Ac­cord­ing to the Field Poll, 69% of Democrats sup­port Brown, but 15% would cross party lines to back Whitman.

Even if vot­ers re­ject a sus­pen­sion of the global warm­ing law, the gover­nor has the author­ity to declare a fi­nan­cial emer­gency and put it on hold, as Whitman has vowed to do.

The gover­nor also con­trols ap­point­ments to key agen­cies charged with im­ple­ment­ing var­i­ous an­tipol­lu­tion pro­grams un­der the law, in­clud­ing the cre­ation of an am­bi­tious sys­tem to cap the green­house gases that in­dus­tries are al­lowed to emit but al­low com­pa­nies to trade emis­sions per­mits.

In ad­di­tion, the next gover­nor could also use his or her author­ity to roll back other pro­grams un­der the um­brella of the law that have been in place for a while: en­ergy ef­fi­ciency stan­dards, re­stric­tions on ve­hi­cle emis­sions and re­quire­ments that power com­pa­nies pro­vide more en­ergy from such re­new­able re­sources as the sun and wind.

Brown sup­port­ers, in­clud­ing the Cal­i­for­nia League of Con­ser­va­tion Vot­ers, say en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­grams will be wa­tered down, and man­dates on busi­ness to cut pol­lu­tion will be de­layed or aban­doned, if the next gover­nor ap­points agency heads and board di­rec­tors who are cozy with cor­po­ra­tions anx­ious about the law’s im­pact on their bot­tom line.

Whitman’s back­ers said the Repub­li­can would stream­line reg­u­la­tion while keep­ing Cal­i­for­nia a leader in the en­vi­ron­men­tal move­ment.

“She un­der­stands the nexus be­tween the en­vi­ron­ment and the econ­omy,” said Vir­ginia Chang Ki­raly, pres­i­dent of the Cal­i­for­nia chap­ter of Repub­li­cans for En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion. “One year, if you look at the whole time frame of the whole en­vi­ron­men­tal move­ment, is a breather. It will help us im­ple­ment [the law] more ef­fec­tively and ef­fi­ciently.” Times staff writer Evan Halper in Sacra­mento con­trib­uted to this re­port.

Jay L. Clen­denin

SPEAK­ING OUT: Meg Whitman, with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, op­poses sus­pend­ing the global warm­ing law but ad­vo­cates a one-year mora­to­rium.

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