Ex-Vice President Al Gore has recently a series of legal moves by a number of Texas-based oil refinement companies to finagle or simply by-pass California’ CO2 emissions laws. Mr. Gore was responding (at least) to an article by John M. Broder and Clifford Krauss in the New York Times, which explores the digging done by to circumvent California’s cap-and-trade laws (California’s laws are seen by many throughout the US as the best ‘laboratory’ on how such a market might function).
But the law has a notable proviso that is going to keep it dormant for some time:
The ballot initiative would prevent the law’s taking effect until unemployment in California falls to 5.5 percent or lower for four consecutive quarters. The state’s current unemployment rate is 12.5 percent. The average statewide unemployment rate in 2006 was 4.9 percent.
Mr. Schwarzenegger has said he considers thelaw one of the signal achievements of his administration and wants to see it put in place. He said recently he believed the petition drive was fueled by the “greed” of out-of-state energy companies.
According to the case is unlikely to move to either the legislature or the courts before the fall of 2010, but please keep an eye on it. Other states are anxiously watching California’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gasses, and if Valero Energy can undo the legislation even before it takes effect, other states are likely to turn away from the effort altogether. A real setback for the notion that public interest and private enterprise can work together for the enrichment of both.