Business cool to global-warming rules

Planet-conscious California faced up to its alter ego—the energy-consuming, carbon-dioxide monster—last week, passing a first-in-the-nation bill to thwart global warming through the California Senate Environmental Quality Committee.

“California is the 12th-largest source of global-warming pollution in the world, so reducing pollution in California will literally make a world of difference,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro of Environment California.

If the bill survives the legislative journey ahead, the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, Assembly Bill 32, would empower the California Air Resources Board (CARB) under the California Environmental Protection Agency to assess, monitor and implement regulations statewide to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions 25 percent by 2020. The bill would help implement Governor Schwarzenegger’s own global-warming goals, announced last year.

We’re not just talking tailpipes. According to Del Chiaro, about 40 percent of carbon-dioxide emissions in California come from cars and trucks, but about 60 percent come from large industrial sources, like power plants, manufacturers and oil refineries. In the absence of federal action, California’s A.B. 32 will take the lead in capping industry’s global-warming contributions.

“A.B. 32 is a lose-lose situation because it will drive businesses and jobs from California, increase prices and decrease the supply of energy,” said Vince Sollitto, a spokesman for the California Chamber of Commerce. “At the same time, it will have little to no effect on global climate change because businesses will go somewhere else and continue to emit greenhouse gases.”

But Del Chiaro and advocates describe A.B. 32 as a “win-win” for the environment and the economy. California Assemblywoman Fran Pavley, author of A.B. 32, said the bill is a “boon for the economy” because it promotes technology for energy efficiency, renewable energy sources and alternative fuels.

According to Pavley, current and future impacts of global warming in California include early melting of the Sierra snow pack, which would reduce summer drinking-water supplies, and warmer temperatures, leading to worsened air quality during hot summers in the Central Valley and Southern California. Rising sea levels also could mean flooding for coastal communities, as well as disruption of the Delta.

—Donna Lee

Families of dead youths want prison reform

Since Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s election, five young men have died in California Youth Authority (CYA) facilities. Grieving families and friends honored them at the Capitol during a three-day vigil June 27-29.

On Thursday, they were joined by Books Not Bars, an Oakland-based advocacy group for young people, for a press conference to call for reform of youth prisons.

“If S.B. 609 had been in effect last year, my brother would still be alive,” said Renée Nuñez of Sacramento. Joseph Daniel Maldonado, her 18-year-old brother, hanged himself inside his cell at Stockton’s N.A. Chaderjian prison last August during a 23-hour lockup.

S.B. 609, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, would end 23-hour lockups for youth prisoners.

“Other families should not have to go through what we did,” said Nuñez. She has filed a civil lawsuit over her brother’s suicide, claiming he was denied family visits and mental-health care.

“We’ve got to make sure that DJJ oversight continues,” Romero said at the conference, calling for the community to maintain its involvement.

Jakada Imani, director of Books Not Bars, said the governor is “missing in action” by refusing to meet with the deceased youths’ families and friends.

He urged Schwarzenegger to begin that dialogue and to back DJJ reform bills.

“We will continue to work with all of our stakeholders and this Administration as we move forward to bring much needed reform to the entire California corrections system,” said James E. Tilton, acting secretary of the state’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, in a statement.

—Seth Sandronsky