Energy Policy Initiatives Center (EPIC) Releases Analysis of Calif. Prop. 23

Report evaluates which greenhouse gas reduction measures could be suspended and for how long


San Diego, Calif., September 20, 2010 —
The Energy Policy Initiatives Center (EPIC), a research center at the University of San Diego (USD) School of Law, today released a report that evaluates the potential effects of Proposition 23 on California’s current efforts to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions. Proposition 23 would suspend California Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) until unemployment dropped to a specified level. The analysis released today seeks to answer two important questions: Which greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction measures included in California’s plan to reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 could be suspended under Proposition 23 and how long could they be suspended.

"Proposition 23 raises many questions and complex issues. Given all the attention and hype surrounding this initiative, we wanted to provide analysis on this important issue," said EPIC Director Scott Anders. "We undertook this project to provide fact-based information about the potential effects of Proposition 23 on California’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020."

EPIC assessed the 70 measures included in the California Air Resources Board’s (ARB) Scoping Plan, the statewide roadmap to reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, to determine which ones were likely to be suspended under Proposition 23. EPIC found that 14 measures representing about 50 percent of the emissions needed to meet the 2020 reduction target likely would be suspended under Proposition 23. Based on available economic forecasts, historical unemployment data, and the interpretation of relevant language in Proposition 23, EPIC also found that if Proposition 23 is adopted, AB 32 could be suspended for six to 11 years. Activities to implement certain measures likely could not resume until between 2016 and 2021.

"This is the latest in a series of EPIC reports that provides valuable analysis on energy and climate policy issues related to our state and region," said USD School of Law Dean Kevin Cole. "We are pleased to continue to be a leader on these important issues."

"California’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions includes many measures implemented by a range of state agencies. We wanted to be as specific as possible about which measures would be suspended and which would continue under Proposition 23," said Anders. "Proposition 23 would not completely halt California’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, if a group of measures representing half of the target are suspended for eight years or more, it would be virtually impossible to reach the currently adopted targets."

Key findings of the report include the following:

  • Of the GHG reduction activities included in the ARB Scoping Plan, measures representing about 50 percent of the emissions needed to meet the 2020 reduction target likely could be suspended under Proposition 23.
  • Based on available economic forecasts and historical unemployment data, implementation of AB 32 could be suspended for 6 to 11 years under Proposition 23. It is not likely given recent economic forecasts that unemployment could return to 5.5 percent sooner than the low end of the estimate. Taking the high end of this estimated range, practical implementation of some parts of AB 32 could not start until 2021 – after the current target date to reduce emissions to 1990 levels.
  • During the past 34 years, California’s unemployment rate fell to or below 5.5 percent during three separate periods that lasted for about 30 consecutive months each.
  • Of all the measures in the ARB Scoping Plan needed to reach statewide GHG emissions targets, 52 percent have been approved, 44 percent are in development, and 4 percent are either ongoing activities or net yet developed.
  • The ARB Scoping Plan comprises measures to be implemented by ARB and other agencies, including California Energy Commission, California Public Utilities Commission, Department of Water Resources, CalRecycle, CalFire, Department of General Services, among others. Further, authority to implement Scoping Plan measures derives from sources other than AB 32.

To download copies of the full report, please go to EPIC's website.

About Energy Policy Initiatives Center (EPIC)

EPIC is an academic and research center of the University of San Diego School of Law that studies how energy policy issues affect the San Diego County region and California. EPIC integrates research and analysis, law school study and public education, and provides legal and policy expertise and information about efficient and environmentally responsible solutions to our future energy needs.

About the University of San Diego School of Law

The University of San Diego School of Law is a center of academic excellence focused on preparing its students for legal practice in the new century. One of the most selective law schools in the country, the School of Law’s nationally recognized faculty create a demanding, yet welcoming environment that emphasizes individualized education. USD law school graduates consistently score higher than the state average on the California Bar Exam and go on to practice law throughout the country and abroad, forming an influential network of alumni. The USD School of Law is one of only 81 law schools in the country to have a chapter of the Order of the Coif, the most distinguished rank of American law schools. The school is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. Founded in 1954, the law school is part of the University of San Diego, a private, nonprofit, independent, Roman Catholic university chartered in 1949.

Contact:

Scott Anders
scottanders@sandiego.edu
(619) 260-4589