WWWD (What Will Whitman Do) on Proposition 23 and AB 32? Whitman’s Seeing Green for the General Election

There’s renewed attention today on both AB 32 — California’s sweeping climate change legislation — and Proposition 23, the initiative that would derail it (see Rick’s post here about several state AGs considering suing to overturn AB 32 as unconstitutional and his post here about Berkelely’s study concluding, basically, that Prop 23 is a bad idea.)  Californians will go to the polls in less than two months to decide AB 32’s fate, aided by big time donations from the nefarious Koch brothers, who are bankrolling the campaign in favor of the initiative to suspend the state’s climate efforts.

Now comes news that seems to have received very little coverage.  California Republican gubernatorial candidate  Meg  Whitman has  previously stated — early in the primary campaign in September, 2009 while seeking the nomination to be the candidate of the Republican party — that if elected governor she would suspend the implementation of AB 32, as allowed by the terms of the statute.  Yet in a little noticed interview on Los Angeles right wing radio, she let slip that she is likely to vote against Proposition 23.  Moreover, she now appears to be softening her stance on whether she’ll suspend the implementation of AB 32 by executive order, saying she will impose a one year moratorium on AB 32’s implementation while she “studies” the issue.   Indeed if you read her website you might be convinced that she’s an ardent environmentalist, with support for renewable energy and clean air and opposition to offshore oil drilling.

Her shifting position on environmental issues is a predictable reaction, of course.  She moved right for the primary to win the nomination over conservative Steve Poisner and is now attempting to bring her position back into the California mainstream. Despite tough economic times, two thirds of Californians polled support California’s global warming legislation even in the face of attacks against it.   Whitman’s position on climate change has shifted far enough to the center that one right wing blogger leveled the ultimate insult against her:  she’s Arnold all over again.

We still don’t know exactly what Whitman would do with AB 32’s implementation if elected governor, assuming Proposition 23 is defeated.  But I’m becoming more optimistic  that she’s more committed to her political future than to her primary position promising to suspend  AB 32’s implementation.  If  Proposition 23  loses, Whitman’s  got political cover to say that the voters have spoken and that she’ll allow AB 32 to go into effect after all.

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About Ann

Ann Carlson is currently on leave from UCLA School of Law. She is the Shirley Shapiro Professor of Environmental Law and was the founding Faculty Director of the Emmett I…

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