Worries Surface Over Prop 26 Despite Defeat Of Prop 23
Proposition 23’s defeat by California voters last Tuesday was a victory for environmentalists over Big Oil.
But the party may already be over.
While voters defended the Global Warming Solutions Act, known as AB32, by striking down Prop 23, another proposition passed that could undermine the climate bill passed and protected by voters.
Proposition 26 expands the definition of a “tax,” and would require a two-thirds majority of the California Legislature to approve any new fee on companies or people instead of a simple majority.
According to a UCLA School of Law study last week, the initiative “could have substantial and wide-ranging impacts on implementation of the state's health, safety and environmental laws,” including AB32. Noting that the state imposes regulatory fees for such programs, the study said Prop 26 will “make it harder to fund these programs in the future.”
While activists were focusing their attention on defeating Prop 23, millions of dollars were poured into the campaign to pass Prop 26. Companies that bankrolled the measure included Chevron, Exxon and PG&E, in addition to the California Chamber of Commerce.
AB32 was passed in 2006 but will be implemented next year. It will likely include some increased fees on oil, gas and other pollution sources the law aims to cut. Though it is not clear how the new required two-thirds majority will affect the measure, the UCLA study predicts, “at a minimum, we expect that industry would mount a challenge to future AB32 fees.”
The fight is far from over though, as the courts will undoubtedly soon be involved. The 61 percent of California voters who struck down Prop 23 can now only hope a lawsuit will prevent Prop 26 from taking effect.
Reach staff reporter Andria Kowalchik here.
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