Rallying against Proposition 23: Initiative is called a step back

A parade of Central Coast elected officials Thursday spoke in opposition to Proposition 23, a ballot measure that would suspend the state’s requirements to reduce “greenhouse gas” emissions.

The event, held in Mitchell Park in San Luis Obispo, attracted only a handful of supporters as well as a few curious passersby.

But that didn’t stop Rep. Lois Capps, three county supervisors, a city councilman, a candidate for Assembly and various environmentalists from railing against the ballot measure that they said would be a step backward.

Proposition 23 on the Nov. 2 ballot would suspend state laws that call for ambitious reductions in greenhouse gas emissions — which are blamed for causing climate change — and reduce California’s use of foreign oil.

“We want to start solving these problems instead of pretending they don’t exist,” said Capps, a Santa Barbara Democrat who represents San Luis Obispo County in Congress.

Supporters of Proposition 23 call the state’s clean air law a job killer.

The ballot measure would suspend the requirements until the state’s unemployment rate drops to 5.5 percent or lower for a year. It is currently at 12.4 percent.

“The question is are we willing to spend billions on a global warming law that will cost over a million jobs when 2.2 million Californians are already unemployed?” said Andy Caldwell, executive director of the Santa Maria-based Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business.

Speakers at the event rejected the claim that the state’s clean-air laws are job killers, arguing that green energy technology is creating half a million jobs in the state.

They also pointed out that most of the funding for Proposition 23 comes from Texas oil companies, who they say stand to profit.

Other elected officials who spoke at the event were Supervisors Bruce Gibson, Adam Hill and Jim Patterson, state Assembly candidate and Santa Maria City Councilwoman Hilda Zacarias and San Luis Obispo City Councilman John Ashbaugh.