AQMD: Vote for clean air

Governors should stay out of AB 32 fight

The job of the Butte County Air Quality Management District is to reduce air pollution and make breathing safer for everyone. When it meets today (Thursday, May 27) beginning at 10:15 a.m. in the Chico City Council chambers, it may do just the opposite.

That’s because its Board of Governors has been asked to support a letter and pass a resolution requesting suspension of California’s landmark Global Warming Solutions Act, AB 32. The requests—by Biggs Councilwoman Angela Thompson—are part of a frontal assault by supporters of the so-called California Jobs Initiative likely to be on the November ballot (thanks to signature-gathering bankrolled by Texas oil companies). If passed, the initiative will suspend AB 32 indefinitely.

The Butte County Board of Supervisors has already rolled over on the issue, voting 3-1 (with Jane Dolan dissenting and Maureen Kirk abstaining) on May 11 to support a resolution backing the initiative. Dolan was able to get the resolution’s wording changed so that, instead of calling for the suspension of AB 32 until the unemployment rate drops to 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters—something that could take 20 years or more—it reads “drops to reasonable historical levels,” whatever that means.

Since all five supervisors also serve on the AQMD board, the letter of support already has four votes, including Thompson’s. You can bet that few of these governors know what AB 32 really does, or what impact it will have on jobs, air quality and greenhouse-gas emissions. The issue has been deeply politicized and distorted by our assemblyman, Dan Logue, who is heading up the anti-AB 32 effort statewide.

The good news is that Kirk, who chairs the AQMD board, has invited a representative of the California Air Resources Board to speak on the issue. We hope his presentation today clears away some of the smoke and allows the board to avoid interposing itself unwisely in a contentious political debate about jobs and, in the process, voting against cleaner air.