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AB32 To Face 2 Challenges On November Ballot

Publication Date: 
July 26, 2010
San Francisco Chronicle
Bob Egelko

Michael Wara, assistant professor in environmental law and policy, is quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle on the legal grounds in which Meg Whitman could suspend a state law (AB32) requiring a reduction of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases:

Californians will vote twice in November on the state's groundbreaking law to reduce emissions that contribute to global warming - once on an oil company-backed initiative to put the law on hold indefinitely, and once in the governor's race, where Republican Meg Whitman has promised to suspend the rules for a year.

Governors are normally required to enforce all state laws, including those they dislike. But AB32, which requires the state to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases 25 percent by 2020, has a built-in escape hatch.

The law authorizes a governor to delay some or all of its provisions for up to a year "in the event of extraordinary circumstances, catastrophic events, or threat of significant economic harm." The governor can renew the suspension if the conditions still exist after a year.


But the text of the law contains no such limitations and appears to give the governor free rein to order a suspension. Michael Wara, a Stanford law professor who supports AB32, said a legal challenge would probably fail.

"If Whitman wants to roll this back, she can," he said. "She has to provide a reasoned basis for doing so," such as the unemployment rate and other signs of economic distress, Wara said.