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Proposition 23 backers sue over ballot language

The suit, filed against Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown, says the wording describing the measure is 'false, misleading and unfair.' The ballots will be printed in mid-August.

July 29, 2010|By Margot Roosevelt, Los Angeles Times

Backers of Proposition 23, a November ballot initiative to suspend California's 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act, filed suit in Sacramento County Superior Court on Tuesday against Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown for what they called "false, misleading and unfair" language that would describe the measure on voters' ballots.

The ballots, which must be printed by mid-August, would say that the measure "Suspends Air Pollution Control Laws Requiring Major Polluters to Report and Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions That Cause Global Warming Until Unemployment Drops Below Specified Level for Full Year."

The Yes on Prop 23 campaign said in its court petition that the initiative's title and summary, drafted by Brown's office, should not refer to "air pollution control laws" because it does not apply to multiple laws, only the Global Warming Solutions Act, known as AB 32. Nor should it refer to "major polluters," the petition contended, because power plants and refineries are not the only institutions affected by the law, which covers emissions from universities, agricultural facilities, municipal buildings, and other private companies and citizens.

Brown, who is running for governor as the Democratic nominee, supports the law. His GOP opponent, Meg Whitman, says she would suspend the law for a year.

Scientists say that carbon dioxide and other emissions from industry and transportation have begun to trap heat in Earth's atmosphere at dangerous levels. California is vulnerable to climate change due to global warming according to numerous studies, particularly because of the resulting sea level rise and the melting of its mountain snow pack, on which water supplies depend.

The No campaign, called Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs, got a boost this week when Thomas Steyer, founder of the San Francisco hedge fund Farallon Capital Management LLC, pledged $5 million.

"Proposition 23 really boils down to one thing," Steyer said in a news release. "Do we want California to continue moving forward as a leader in a clean energy economy … or do we want to allow two Texas-based oil companies … to take our state backward and see the clean energy jobs, business and investment in our state go offshore to places like China?"

More than three-quarters of the $3.1-million funding for the ballot initiative comes from oil companies, including Texas refining behemoths Valero Energy Corp. and Tesoro Inc.

Jon Coupal, co-chairman of the Yes on 23 campaign and president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn., said the initiative "will save California families billions of dollars in higher energy costs and protect over a million jobs."

margot.roosevelt@latimes.com

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