Editorial: Blakeslee waffles on Prop. 23

When it comes to global warming, Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee is a believer.

“I do believe global warming is real,” he said at a Friday forum for state Senate candidates, “and I believe that there is a significant anthropogenic, or human component, to it.”

We’re glad that Blakeslee went on the record with such a strong statement.

This may be wishful thinking, but given Blakeslee’s background as a scientist, we hope that global warming doubters will pay attention to what he has to say.

However, we’re puzzled by Blakeslee’s position —or rather, lack of position — on Proposition 23, the November initiative that would suspend AB 32, California’s law mandating lower greenhouse gas emissions.

To clarify, Blakeslee does not oppose Proposition 23, which would suspend AB 32 until California’s unemployment rate is 5.5 percent or lower for four consecutive quarters.

But he doesn’t support it either.

For the record, he’s neutral.

Also for the record, Blakeslee’s Democratic opponent in Tuesday’s election for state Senate, John Laird, is unequivocally opposed to Proposition 23. Laird was, after all, a co-author of AB 32.

Blakeslee, on the other hand, has been highly critical of AB 32, which he described Friday as a “rates-and-dates approach” that will have the effect of “outsourcing all of the jobs and pollution to China.”

Blakeslee says he’s been working hard to fix the flaws in AB 32.

An e-mail from his office staff — sent out to clarify Blakeslee’s position on Proposition 23 — further states that there is “still time in the legislative session to make the necessary corrections.”

We admire Blakeslee’s concern and commitment, but what if there’s no time to make the corrections he finds necessary?

Or what if Blakeslee can’t muster the votes to make those corrections?

As we’ve said before, California already is seeing the effects of global warming in the form of rising sea levels. In response, local officials have been making plans to reroute or strengthen portions of coastal highways vulnerable to flooding.

We can’t afford to wait for a full economic recovery before we act. AB 32 may not be perfect — really, what piece of legislation is? — but putting it on indefinite hold would be a giant step backward.

Besides, AB 32 already contains a safety valve. It gives the governor the ability to postpone deadlines by up to a year in the event of significant economic harm.

The Tribune has gone on record to urge a no vote on Proposition 23.

We urge Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee to join us.