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A political climate: The battle over Prop 23

In California, it’s Big Energy versus Big Green — using big money.

While the Senate and governors’ races are getting much of the attention, there’s a ballot initiative that has important consequences nationwide. Voters will be asked to reconsider California’s tough anti-greenhouse gas standards, arguably the strictest in the nation.

Opponents of the new regulations are trying to block them by asking voters to approve Proposition 23. The battle has attracted millions from out-of-state interests. Both sides see the results as a bellwether for the future of environmental policy across the entire country.

With our colleagues at KCET’s “So-Cal Connected,” we asked correspondent John Larson to find out what we need to know when the votes come in on Tuesday night.

Out-of-state money floods into California over greenhouse gas law


  • Pete

    Last night’s segment on global warming and Proposition 23 featured a California state legislator who expressed the commonly-held belief that there is global climate change but no evidence that greenhouse gases cause the warming. As an opposing voice the former Secretary of State George Schultz expressed his beliefs to the contrary and his support for a “green economy”. The interviewer seemed very interested in the fact that he is republican and served in republican administrations and isn’t this a contradiction and so on. So the viewer was presented with the typical PBS approach: get one guy on one side and one guy on the other and let them blow a bunch of hot air. This is somewhat like the sportcasters that come on as a group before a game and argue with each other about the outcome except that it lacked the comic entertainment value. What really gets lost in the palaver is the idea that there might actually be factual information that proves the case one way or the other. The best kind of person to present such information would be a climate scientist. Right? But programmers of “Need To Know” obviously thought that presenting a non-expert such as George Schultz was preferable to someone like Prof. Steve Running of the University of Montana. I recently watched a truly excellent presentation by Prof. Running on currently observable ecosystem changes in North America resulting from global warming. Or, an atmospheric physicist like James Hansen. Or maybe somebody who could summarize the results of the 2007 IPCC report which is quite convincing. But that’s not the way it works PBS and all the other networks and talkshows are simply not interested in factual information concerning the bleak future we face.

  • Sean Robertson

    I didnt get the same feeling from watching this, it wasnt meant to be a scientific report. Unfortunately we make decisions in democratic countries based on voting and not science. This is a political issue that will be voted on and so the opposing political points of view were presented. From my point of view they did a great job of showing the political motivations of those wanting to prolong the status quo and that those were not guided by science and forward thinking but by greed. The problem with most corporations and conservative politicians is that they want to maintain the status quo even when doing so ultimately means the end of humanity. But the world does not stand still, change is inevitable. We should embrace it and do it in a rational way rather than be backed into a corner and have to change in a mood of panic. Hopefully common sense will prevail and California can be a guiding light for the rest of America and the world!

  • Janiaga

    This was a fascinating piece on the politics and forces shaping California’s, and our nation’s, energy future. I hope California will continue to be a leader and example to the rest of our great nation that we CAN change from non-renewable, petroleum based energy to clean, renewable technologies, and that it WILL be a successful step forward.