Thursday, July 29, 2010

209 / And Another Proposition

Assembly Bill 32, usually called "AB 32," is the "California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006."

It is my contention that the "legislative process" is a good model for understanding how human beings create new realities, and AB 32 is a perfect example of how that legislative process works.

The bill is revolutionary in its implications, but very simple in its its structure. [Incidentally, the structure of AB 32 is very similar to the structure of Measure J, adopted by the people of Santa Cruz County as a referendum measure in 1978. The implementation of Measure J very much created a new reality in Santa Cruz County, with respect to its future growth and development, just as AB 32 seeks to create a new economic and social reality in California as a whole].

AB 32 begins with a set of easily-understood "findings," outlining the current situation, and stating why global warming is such a challenge to the world, and to California. Then, after a section defining terms, and a section assigning responsibility to the Air Resources Board for carrying out the requirements contained in the bill, AB 32 states the proposed "solution" to the problem outlined in the "findings." The operative language is, again, very simple:


By January 1, 2008, the state board shall, after one or more public workshops, with public notice, and an opportunity for all interested parties to comment, determine what the statewide greenhouse gas emissions level was in 1990, and approve in a public hearing, a statewide greenhouse gas emissions limit that is equivalent to that level, to be achieved by 2020.

Basically, the above one-sentence statement is AB 32. This is the "idea" or "legislative decision" that the State adopted as its goal, when the Legislature enacted, and the Governor signed, AB 32. Paraphrased, the goal is that the state of California shall take actions to "roll back" greenhouse gas emission levels in California, to ensure that greenhouse gas emission levels in the year 2020 will be equivalent to greenhouse gas emission levels during the year 1990.

AB 32 goes on to establish time lines, and to give procedural guidance to the Air Resources Board, but the essence of the "law" and the "legislative decision" made by enacting AB 32, is that California has decided to "roll back" greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels, and to accomplish that by the year 2020. The Air Resources Board is to figure out how to do that specifically, and then to promulgate rules and programs that will ensure that the state does in fact accomplish the goal.

The "goal" of AB 32 is exactly like a doctor's prescription. The "law" doesn't tell us what will inevitably happen (so it's not like "laws" in the world of nature); instead, the "law" tells us what we want to do. If we actually do it, the world will be changed.

Because "law" in the human world is the way human beings exercise their freedom, human laws can always be changed.

Proposition 23, on the November 2, 2010 ballot in California, would essentially "repeal" AB 32 (though that's not the way the sponsors of the initiative put it).

Who are the sponsors of the initiative? A bunch of oil companies. I am strongly recommending a "No" vote on Proposition 23. Read the "findings" in AB 32. If you think they're accurate, and that global warming poses a massive challenge to the continued existence of human civilization as we know it, you'll vote "No," too.

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