California's global warming bill may be heyday for lobbyists

The Sacramento BeeJuly 12, 2010 

The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 is beginning to look like a stimulus package for the lobbying trade.

During the past year, oil companies, manufacturers and trade groups have made a big push to shape the rules and regulations behind California's landmark greenhouse gas reduction law, The Bee has found in a review of lobbying disclosure statements filed with the California secretary of state's office.

Environmental groups, clean-energy advocates and utility companies also have weighed in heavily, although some green lobbyists said they felt outgunned by the money and technical expertise available to oil companies.

The regulatory give-and-take offers a glimpse into the amount of money that could wind up flowing into the November ballot initiative to roll back the global warming law, AB 32.

"California is a very important focal point for the U.S. for climate change action for the coming year, so it's no surprise that the interests are lining up and a real political battle seems to be emerging," said Daniel Esty, director of Yale University's Center for Business and Environment and a campaign adviser to President Barack Obama on energy and environmental issues.

Signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006, AB 32 aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions statewide to 1990 levels by the end of the decade.

Oil refiners, manufacturers and others who will have to cut back emissions say the law will cost the state more than 1 million jobs and result in tens of billions of dollars in lost productivity.

But the law also brings potential benefits for green tech companies, alternative fuels producers, carbon traders and even utilities.

Much of the recent public debate over AB 32 has focused on the efforts of a coalition largely funded by Texas oil interests and California manufacturers to roll back the law.

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