Monday, August 08, 2005

Go Green for common ground for Governor, Legislature, People

Mark Baldasare finds common ground between the Governor, the Legislature and the people of California--protecting the environment.

In spite of all the partisan bickering in Sacramento, the governor and Legislature have produced a unique package of state laws that address global warming, and the public seems to support these efforts. In fact, when it comes to solutions on global warming, California has bucked its usual trend in policymaking, favoring the legislative process of lawmaking over direct democracy through the citizens' initiative process.

Three in four residents support the state law, championed by Democratic legislators, that requires automakers to further reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases in new automobiles. Seven in 10 also favor the governor's proposal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by industry, power plants, and cars by more than 80 percent over the next 50 years. As for the state's energy policies, there is also solid support for efforts that would help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Three in four residents want state policies that promote the use of more solar energy in California's homes and businesses, and most favor a plan to have California lead the nation in hydrogen fuel cell technology by building a "hydrogen highway" with hydrogen fueling stations by 2010.

For Schwarzenegger, there do not seem to be any immediate political gains for taking steps to reduce global warming. He continues to be mired in low job approval ratings, and the general public is not giving him much credit for his serious efforts to address global warming. Yet, the governor's actions today could improve his chances for reelection in 2006. For instance, he would be able to point to a "green" environmental record as evidence of his independence from the policies of the Bush administration. His Democratic opponents would not be able to portray him as a Republican who is out of touch with public concerns about global warming. This would increase his reach to the two in three voters outside of his GOP base. In addition, if Schwarzenegger can continue to deliver on environmental issues, he may be able to reestablish his credentials as a governor who bridges the state's partisan divide.

To do so will require a willingness to forgive and forget on the part of the governor and the Legislature. They need to find a way to work together for a better future, even at a time when they are fighting in the here-and-now over a special election.

Good luck. Democrats have tried to scuttle even the Solar Homes initiative by injecting language requiring union labor be used to install the solar panels--at a cost to the people and the environment.