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The global warming battle you haven’t heard of

The campaign against California’s Proposition 23, which would suspend the state’s landmark greenhouse gas law, has been fueled by Hollywood star power and millions from Silicon Valley bigwigs, like the founders of Google. But just down the ballot from Prop 23 is a much less discussed initiative that, some say, could be just as influential: Proposition 26.

Prop 26 would expand the definition of a “tax” under California law to include some state and local fees. At first blush, it might not sound like a big deal, but analysts say it could mean dramatic changes in the implementation of California’s health, safety and environmental laws. It’s a big enough deal that Chevron, Philip Morris and the California Chamber of Commerce — entities that are largely sitting out the Prop 23 battle — have spent millions to support Prop 26.

To understand exactly why these companies are supporting Prop 26, and get a sense of what this “sleeper” race could mean for California’s anti-global warming law and efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions across the country, Need to Know’s Erin Chapman spoke with Todd Woody, a long-time environmental journalist based in Berkeley, Calif. Woody is the founder of the Green Wombat blog, and his work has appeared in Grist and The New York Times.

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