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Manufacturing, Clean Air Clash At Prop 23 Debate

Susan Shimotsu |
October 22, 2010 | 1:04 a.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Terry Tamminen (l) and Dorothy Rothrock participated in the Prop 23 debate (Susan Shimotsu/Neon Tommy)
Terry Tamminen (l) and Dorothy Rothrock participated in the Prop 23 debate (Susan Shimotsu/Neon Tommy)

With the election less than two weeks away, supporters and opponents of Proposition 23 came out to UCLA on Thursday night to listen to both sides debate the issue with KPCC, 89.3 FM's Patt Morrison moderating.

Prop 23 calls for certain air pollution laws to be put on hold until the unemployment rate drops to 5.5 percent or below for a full year.

Thursday evening’s debate pitted Terry Tamminen, the CEO of clean-air activists Seventh Generation Advisors against Dorothy Rothrock, the senior vice president of government relations for the California Manufacturers and Technology Association. Morrison moderated and recorded an episode of her radio show at the same time.

Rothrock, who is in favor of Prop 23, opened the debate by reassuring the audience that the 5.5 percent unemployment rate is “not that extreme of a requirement,” noting that it had been that low about 30 percent of the time since 1988. The current unemployment rate in the state of California is 12.4 percent and the last time it was at 5.5 or lower was in 2007.

While critics of the measure are quick to point out the potential damage to the environment less regulation would pose, Rothrock also reiterated that Prop 23 does not throw out many of the aggressive standards the state holds up, it only really targets cap and trade.

“[Cap and trade] is the most troublesome regulation for the manufacturers,” said Rothrock, who also added the expensive energy affects the entire economy.

Tamminen opposes Prop 23 based on his concern for higher air pollution. Part of Prop 23 will suspend the timetable for clean air set forth by Assembly Bill 32, which was passed in 2006 and aims to reduce California’s greenhouse gas emissions back to 1990 levels by 2020. Tamminen claimed the only people who want Prop 23 passed are out-of-state oil companies like Valero and Tesoro and that they only care about the bottom line.

“The roughly $9 million raised for the Prop 23 campaign… was paid for by two out-of-state Texas oil companies,” he said. “They clearly have an interest in keeping us addicted to their products.” 

Clean air is a global problem, and Tamminen said California’s action could potentially spark other countries and states to enact similar environmental legislation. Currently, eight other states have laws almost identical to AB 32, plus ten states in the Northeast adopted cap and trade policies with no extra costs reported.

Rothrock concluded with California’s need to send a good message that promotes self-sustainability as well as research and development without going over costs. Temmanin said he wants to “civilize” the oil companies as well as increase revenues for small business and help children keep their full lung function.

The debate will air Monday at 2 p.m. PDT on Morrison’s show on KPCC, 89.3 FM and will be available online Friday night.

To reach reporter Susan Shimotsu, click here.

Follow her on Twitter: @susanfromtx.

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