Prop 23 is dead: Long live California's green guinea pig!

California voters resoundingly voted down Proposition 23, which would have limited the environmental requirements of law AB 32, California's anti-greenhouse gas law.

Rich Pedroncelli / AP
Actor David Arquette executes a martial arts kick after an anti-Prop. 23 news conference in Sacramento, Calif., on Oct. 19. In a video entitled "Don't Mess With California," Arquette, playing California, knocks out a group of thugs representing Texas oil interests. Oil companies donated the bulk of the money to support Prop. 23, a losing ballot measure that would have indefinitely suspended AB32, California's landmark environmental law.

“When policies advantageous to moneyed interests confront policies focused on emissions reduction, it is the moneyed interests that will win out every time.” source California's Prop 23 was thumped last night in a 61% to 39% defeat. This suggests that this quote is wrong or isn't nuanced enough.

Does this California vote to unilaterally battle climate change make any sense to political economy scholars? For all those who fear the pernicious effects of "Big Oil"'s petro dollars and the political influence it is supposed to buy, why didn't the Texas "invasion" of California's airwaves succeed?

Now, the interesting fact in this case is that the "moneyed interests" split on this issue. To speak in cliches, the dinosaur fossil fuel companies supported Prop 23 while the "New School" green techn interests supported it. Anticipating that green investors need certainty and clear signals from government, I support the roll out of AB32. We need to play the green card to achieve a game changing technological leap.

I don't believe that we will cap global greenhouse gas emissions any time soon but we can slow the increase in emissions through such technological advance. I don't care whether fears of Peak Oil or the anticipation of government regulation drives technological advance to encourage us to substitute away from fossil fuels.

How do we cost effectively accelerate green technological advance? How do we achieve this goal if we don't allow fossil fuel prices to rise or institute a carbon tax? Republicans would be more likely to support this goal if it could be done cost-effectively --- if they smell that R&D subsidies are simply allowing liberal faculty at elite university to eat brie and sunbathe then I doubt they will support this agenda. I would like to see the nerds crunch the numbers to demonstrate that the expected returns in green R&D will exceed the investment returns on other investments.

I am proud of California and the Air Resources Board as it takes the next steps to roll out AB32. I would encourage my friends at the ARB to keep the UC economists involved in their regulatory rollout. --- No, the consulting fees are not very high, the UC economists are straight shooters who will take pride in helping to design new regulations and incentives that cost effectively reduce the carbon intensity of the California economy and offer exportable lessons for the rest of the nation and world. Hail the green guinea pig!
We are heroes , not suckers!

Climate change adaptation will continue to be a pressing issue and this is why I wrote Climatopolis. Over time, I'm hoping that more of you will read it.


The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best economy-related bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. This post originally ran on

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
QR Code to Prop 23 is dead: Long live California's green guinea pig!
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today