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A state does what the feds can’t

Martha Young //November 4, 2010//

A state does what the feds can’t

Martha Young //November 4, 2010//

California’s Proposition 23, euphemistically labeled the California Jobs Initiative, was soundly rejected in Tuesday’s election. Proposition 23 aimed to table California State law AB 32, which requires the state to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Proposition 23 was seeking to have that law suspended until the unemployment rate dropped to 5.5 percent or lower for four consecutive quarters.

The proposition was backed by Valero Energy Corporation, Tesoro Corporation, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, California Republican party, Assembly member Dan Logue, Republican Congressman Tom McClintock, and the California Manufacturers & Technology Association.

California’s defeat of Proposition 23 sends a message to Washington that if it cannot get its collective act together to support greenhouse gas reductions on a national level, the state will move forward independently.

Colorado is second to California in terms of legislation that sets goals to drive down carbon emissions. Governor Ritter has signed over 50 pieces of legislation aimed at moving Colorado into a broader portfolio of energy solutions concurrently improving Colorado’s air quality and adding to its economic base with alternative and sustainable industries without gutting its oil and gas economic heritage.

In April, Ritter signed the Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act into law. This piece of legislation reached across the aisle and garnered support from Republican Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry of Grand Junction along with numerous other GOP representatives, the state’s natural-gas industry, Xcel Energy, and environmentalists. The bill ensured Colorado would be ahead of any federal EPA air-quality standards. The bill also supports Colorado’s natural-gas industry.

Energy requirements continue to grow across the globe. Meeting those needs with a variety of solutions enables a smooth migration from dirty coal to natural gas, nuclear, wind, solar, and an entire portfolio of options.

The US Senate failed to pass any climate legislation in 2010 in spite of the fact that President Obama had made a commitment in January in Copenhagen at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions to 4 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.

It does not matter if the science behind greenhouse gas emissions is accurate or if the data has been manipulated. What matters is the quality of air everyone breathes. Continuing to pollute the environment in an aggressive, egregious manner has contributed to a measurable rise in health and respiratory illnesses. As we seek to contain skyrocketing healthcare expenses, each of us needs to recognize our role in creating an unhealthy environment. We need to act on an individual basis to clean up our own polluting habits.

The defeat of California’s Proposition 23 is a message to the people and businesses within the State that the time to start the clean up process is now. It is a message to Washington that they are moving on without federal leadership. And, it is a message to the rest of the country that quality of life is fundamental to the State’s future. Colorado lawmakers agree.

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