California elections: voters embrace green economy, nix green bud

california voters choose to lead the nation with a green economy

Trendsetting California voters defied big oil by upholding a bold climate change law. Image: CC

California elections have a history of launching political and social trends nationally. The California midterm elections were watched closely for the outcome of two propositions in particular: Proposition 23, to overturn California’s aggressive greenhouse gas law; and Proposition 19, to legalize marijuana.

California’s bold climate change law upheld

The California elections regularly draw national attention to the most populated state in the U.S. California has the eighth largest economy in the world and its companies and voters wield heavy influence across the country. The state has led the way in air quality legislation for 40 years. Bold greenhouse gas legislation passed in 2006 affects every level of California’s economy. Oil companies poured millions into the state to overturn the law with Proposition 23, citing the recession as a reason to avoid change. Proposition 19 to legalize marijuana also failed as California voters appeared reluctant to face the wrath of the federal government.

Oil companies rejected with Proposition 23 defeat

Proposition 23 to overturn California’s groundbreaking climate change law was supported by funding from two Texas oil companies: Valero and Tesoro. The law, known as AB32, requires reduction of state greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The law affects nearly every business, the entire government and the public at large. A campaign funded by oil companies tried to convince voters that California, with a current unemployment rate of 12 percent, couldn’t afford to address climate change until unemployment hit 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters. More than 60 percent of California voters preferred to continue leading the nation with a green economy. The oil companies weren’t merely defeated. They got their butts kicked.

Feds kill the buzz on Proposition 19

Proposition 19 supporters tried to bolster their own green economy by also using the recession to rationalize the legalization of cannabis. Marijuana promised a windfall in tax revenue for the notoriously unbalanced California budget. The Proposition 19 campaign had strong backing from younger voters, but they failed to show up on election day. Moderate voters also weren’t convinced it was a good idea. But perhaps the biggest factor in the defeat of Proposition 19 was the spectre of the federal government, which threatened to come down hard on California if marijuana were legalized there.



Los Angeles Times

Wall Street Journal

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