A recent Field Poll has shown that California’s Proposition 23 is losing support in the polls.
Proposition 23 would suspend the implementation of the Global Warming Solutions Act — AB 32 — until California unemployment is down to 5.5 percent.
The latest polls show 45 percent of voters oppose the proposition, with only 34 supporting it.
The proposition was introduced by Texas oil giants Valero and Tesoro, along with a refinery owned by billionaires Charles and David Koch. It would suspend the state law that requires greenhouse gas emissions be reduced to levels they were at in 1990 by the year 2020.
The proposition has found little support in California. Democrats are overwhelmingly against it and Republicans seem divided on the issue.
Though Republican Carly Fiorina has voiced her support for Proposition 23, Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman has said she opposes it, preferring a one-year moratorium instead of completely doing away with the clean energy bill.
“Climate change is going to get worse fast,” said Mark Bernstein, managing director of the USC Energy Institute. “[Students] are young enough to see that. If Prop 23 passes, in the near-term, there’ll be less opportunities for doing things that are green.”
Bernstein added that green technology is the only job industry currently expanding in the state.
“Where are the jobs going to be when you guys graduate? The only sector that is growing is green technologies,” Bernstein said. “That’s where the jobs are. And it’s only there because the government is putting it in place.”
Campus activist groups also oppose the proposition and protested at Valero gas stations across the state.
“Clean energy is our future,” said Ryan Waters, campaign coordinator of the No On Prop 23 CALPIRG chapter at USC. “We need to do everything we can to make sure California is a leader in clean energy and clean technology.”
Proponents of Proposition 23 say it will cost money to implement AB 32, which is set to start in 2012.
According to arguments made in favor of the proposition in the California Voter Guide, “AB 32 will cause California households to face higher prices both directly for electricity, natural gas and gasoline, and indirectly as businesses pass costs for [greenhouse gas] reduction on to consumers.”
But Bernstein said the long-term costs are nothing compared to the ultimate benefits of AB 32.
“Will it cost us? In the long-term, maybe,” Bernstein said. “But by the time we get out there, technology will improve and it probably won’t cost us anything. The benefits in the near-term significantly outweigh the costs.”
Micah Scheindlin, political director of USC College Democrats, agreed.
“Their arguments regarding revenue are wholly wrong,” Scheindlin said. “If anything, passing Proposition 23 would stunt the growth of California’s green tech economy and therefore cost the state revenue.”
The proposition’s opponents include The League of Women’s Voters and liberal college groups including California College Democrats.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger also opposes the proposition, having originally signed AB 32 into legislation in 2006.
“The effort to suspend AB 32 is the work of greedy oil companies who want to keep polluting in our state and making profits,” Schwarzenegger said after the measure qualified for the November ballot.
Two advocacy groups, the Courage Campaign and CREDO Action, have called for a boycott of Valero and Beacon gas stations in order to punish Valero for providing financial sponsorship of the initiative.
In the end, Bernstein said, students’ futures are in their hands.
“[AB 32] is not overcoming the jobless rate yet, but it’s getting there,” Bernstein said. “I really want the students to get out and vote.”