APA California to Oppose Proposition 23

Dear American Planning Association, California Members:

As many of you are probably aware, there is a proposition on November’s ballot that would “suspend the operation and implementation” of AB 32, California’s landmark Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. Proposition 23 would suspend AB 32 until California’s unemployment rate drops to 5.5 percent or less for four consecutive quarters – a condition that has only occurred 3 times in the last 30 years.

The proposition’s support organization, the Yes on Jobs First Campaign, argues that suspending AB 32 will save families and businesses money during tough economic times.

The key opponent of the proposition is Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger who maintains that AB 32 has created green jobs in the state. The Governor is joined by a diverse group of organizations in opposition to Proposition 23, including AARP, the American Lung Association and cities and counties throughout the state. The No on Proposition 23 campaign, Stop the Dirty Energy Proposition, has publicized the fact that a large portion of the funding for Prop 23 has come from two Texas oil companies spending millions to suspend AB 32 with the goal to prevent similar global warming emission reduction efforts from being passed in other states and at the federal level.

APA California supported AB 32 and published a guidance document to assist planners in implementing AB 32 at the local level. We have actively supported AB 32 implementation, including the development and implementation of SB 375, which directly links greenhouse gas reduction to regional planning for land use, transportation and housing. However, Proposition 23 could put the implementation of SB 375 and other AB 32-based regulations in jeopardy. SB 375 and other programs with separate statutory authorization have been identified by the ARB as “implementation measures” in the AB 32 Scoping Plan. According to a recent analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council, by explicitly targeting regulations “implementing” AB 32, rather than just regulations adopted pursuant to AB 32, Proposition 23 leaves open the possibility that a court could interpret Proposition 23 as suspending anything listed as an “implementation measure” in the AB 32 Scoping Plan, even those programs with independent statutory authority like SB 375. This could derail strategies and planning efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are already well underway.

AB 32 has placed California in a leadership position on Climate Change, and includes support for many planning principles that are at the heart of APA California’s legislative platform and important values for us as professional planners. While it is true that our economy is in extremely hard times, so too is the environment in which we live. Delaying action that needs to be taken now is only delaying the inevitable. And to rely on a sustained unemployment rate that has rarely even been achieved is effectively a repeal of AB 32. Efforts to improve the environment and public health have typically met with predictions of dire economic consequences: In the congressional debate over the 1990 Clean Air Act, it was argued that the auto emission reductions would devastate industry and yet after it was passed, the auto industry met its emissions reductions targets and saw record profits the following year. While proposition 23 is couched as a job-saving measure, it is really a thinly veiled attempt to eliminate the landmark law entirely.

For the above reasons, the American Planning Association, California Chapter, has voted to take an OPPOSE position on Proposition 23 and is asking APA members to carefully weigh the arguments before casting a vote on this extremely important initiative.