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Protesters Take on Valero Over Initiative that Would Change California's Landmark Climate Bill

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For Earth Day, a group of environmentalists this morning protested outside a Valero gas station on a busy Los Feliz corner hoping to bring attention to an initiative that's likely to appear on November's ballot. That initiative, which is partly funded by the Texas-owned Valero and Tesero, would suspend "state laws requiring reduced greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, until California's unemployment rate drops to 4.8 percent or less for four consecutive quarters," according a summary by the Attorney General.

AB 32, or The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, is California's landmark environmental bill that set pace for the state to start using clean energy. The goal is to reduce green house gas emissions to to 1990 levels by 2020 - a reduction of approximately 30 percent, and then an 80 percent reduction below 1990 levels by 2050," according to the California Air Resources Board, a state agency.

That's not how the opposition sees it. "AB 32 is ineffective and counterproductive, massively costly to businesses and families, and will increase our state deficit and/or cut services including those related to public health and environmental protection," says the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, which is leading the campaign to limit the law.

Standing on the corner of Vermont and Los Feliz this morning, Vicky Kirschenbaum of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Team believes in the current law. "We need AB 32 and its teeth of that legislation to accomplish" shutting down coal plants in Utah, Arizona and Nevada that power Los Angeles.

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Jonathan Parfrey, Director of the GREEN LA Institute, says the opposition is trying to scare people by saying there will be a reduction in jobs. "The entire growth industry for the U.S. economy is entirely based in there being new energy development, new water conservation technologies and new ways for us to live in a more sustainable way on the planet," he said. "That's where the new economy is--not in the old ways of burning coal and burning gasoline... China is making the transition and the thing I would hate to see is for California and the United States to become a second tier nation because we're not making the investment today to have the technologies for tomorrow. If Valero gets its way, we'll become a second tier nation, we'll be stuck in the old ways of doing things and we've got to change that."

The initiative is currently in the signature gathering phase. Proponents need 433,971 from registered voters by July 19th. Parfrey believes they will meet that goal. "The unfortunate thing is if you throw a lot of money into these campaigns, you get a result," he said. "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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