Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, facing a ballot initiative that could derail his cherished global warming law, is urging a go-slow, pro-business approach on a key mechanism used to reduce greenhouse gases.
The law, AB 32, requires California to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions 15 percent by the end of the decade. Scheduled to take effect in 2012, it is a centerpiece of Schwarzenegger's governorship.
But a conservative group is pushing a November ballot initiative that would put the law on ice until unemployment falls below 5.5 percent, on the grounds that AB 32 would cripple an already fragile economy with tens of billions of dollars in new costs. The initiative is being bankrolled by a group of Texas oil companies.
In a letter to the California Air Resources Board this week, the Republican governor sided with business interests on a key piece of the law, saying California's industries must be given "sufficient time" to scale back their carbon emissions gradually.
Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the ARB who is overseeing the rule-making for the global warming law, said Schwarzenegger is trying to tamp down fears of economic calamity that are being "fanned by the initiative proponents."
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