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Measure that Would Weaken California Pollution Laws Qualifies for November Ballot

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Even before the measure qualified for the ballot, protests drawing attention to Valero's initiative occurred across the state | Photo by Zach Behrens/LAist

A measure largely funded by two large Texas oil companies that would suspend California pollution standards unless unemployment dropped significantly qualified for the November ballot, Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced today.

The news is not surprising environmentalists who expected companies Valero and Tesoro to easily place the initiative on the ballot. "The unfortunate thing is if you throw a lot of money into these campaigns, you get a result," Jonathan Parfrey, Director of the GREEN LA Institute, said at an Earth Day protest outside a Valero gas station in Los Feliz. "But one of the things that Californians do is when it comes to that moment when they're in the polling booth they can really smell when there's something deceitful."

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The measure suspend AB 32, which requires reduced greenhouse gas emissions, "until California’s unemployment rate drops to 5.5 percent or less for four consecutive quarters," according to the ballot language. California would have to "abandon implementation of comprehensive greenhouse-gas-reduction program that includes increased renewable energy and cleaner fuel requirements, and mandatory emission reporting and fee requirements for major polluters such as power plants and oil refineries, until suspension is lifted."

"AB 32 isn't just unsound; it's practically suicidal," said Ben Boychuk, the Managine Editor of Heartland Institute's School Reform News in a SacBee opinion piece. "The law sets unrealistic goals to address a 'problem' - i.e., warming - that scientists say hasn't been occurring since 1998. (That's why we're supposed to talk about "climate change" now; the law's very name is obsolete.)"

Rick Jacobs from the Courage Campaign says the Gulf oil spill might not help the oil companies fight at the ballot box. "Amidst the worst ecological disaster in American history and the crippling of the Gulf Coast's economy caused by oil company disregard for regulations designed to protect the public, Valero, Tesoro, and Occidental are bankrolling a campaign to bring even more pollution to California," he said, noting that at least 15 oil and energy companies have contributed to the measure.

A call to boycott of Valero has already begun.