California’s climate culture war heats up – CalMatters

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California, explained
Saying Californians disagree about the state’s approach to climate change might be a bit of an understatement.
Today, for example, California’s air regulators are set to hold the first of two hearings on a controversial, far-reaching proposal that would ban the sale of new gas-powered big rigs and other trucks in the state by 2040 and require trucking companies to convert their existing fleets to zero-emissions vehicles.
The trucking industry opposes the proposed regulations, which it says are “not realistic” and are “pushing for too much, too fast,” as Chris Shimoda, senior vice president of government affairs for the California Trucking Industry, put it in a Wednesday CalMatters commentary.
On the other hand, environmental justice advocates are set today to hold a “rally to fight diesel death” outside the California Environmental Protection Agency to urge air regulators to go both faster and further. Their demands: a goal of 100% electric car sales by 2036 and accelerated pollution cuts from certain big rigs.
The divide over California climate policy was also highlighted in a poll released late Wednesday night by the Public Policy Institute of California, which found that Proposition 30 — a November ballot measure to hike taxes on the state’s wealthiest residents to fund electric vehicle programs and wildfire prevention efforts — is underwater with likely voters, with 52% opposed, 41% in favor and 7% undecided. (The margin of error on the sample of 1,111 likely voters is plus or minus 5.1 percentage points.)
Exactly how much money would Prop. 30 raise every year, and where exactly would those dollars go? How many Californians would pay higher taxes? Who is funding the campaigns for and against the measure, and how much have they raised? And how much money are the state and federal governments already spending on electric vehicles and wildfire prevention?
Speaking of wildfires, Newsom on Wednesday requested a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration to help cover state, local and tribal recovery costs from wildfires exacerbated by an extreme late-summer heat wave.
Wildfires also cast a metaphorical haze over a Wednesday report from the California Air Resources Board that found the Golden State’s carbon dioxide emissions fell by nearly 9% in 2020 — the largest single-year drop ever recorded — as millions of residents stayed home during the pandemic. Because of those unique circumstances, 2020 “cannot be used as a reliable data point” to predict future trends, the board’s executive officer, Dr. Steven Cliff, said in a statement.
Nor does the data account for emissions from wildfires. Research published last week found that wildfires in 2020 — California’s worst wildfire year on record — emitted more than double the greenhouse gases slashed by the state from 2003 to 2019. 
Time to vote: Find out everything you need to know about voting before California’s election ends Nov. 8 in the CalMatters Voter Guide, which includes information on races, candidates and propositions, as well as videos, interactives and campaign finance data. And if you missed CalMatters’ event last week on the seven ballot measures, you can watch it here and read a brief recap here.
Newsom unveiled his opposition to Prop. 27 — which would legalize online sports betting — on Wednesday, less than two weeks before Election Day: “Proposition 27 is bad for California,” the governor said in a statement. “It would hurt California’s Indian Tribes, increase the risks of underage gambling, and push billions of dollars out of California and into the pockets of out-of-state corporations.” The governor is not expected to take a formal stance on Prop. 26, which would authorize in-person sports betting at Native American casinos and horse race tracks.
In any case, most Californians already seem to have made up their minds on the dueling sports betting measures: A whopping 67% of likely voters oppose Prop. 27, with just 26% in favor, according to the PPIC survey released Wednesday night. Things aren’t looking much better for Prop. 26, with 57% of likely voters in opposition compared to just 34% who support it. That marks a sharp decline for both measures from a UC Berkeley poll released earlier this month.
As for Newsom himself, the PPIC poll found that 55% of likely voters plan to support his gubernatorial reelection bid, while 36% plan to cast a vote for his opponent, Republican state Sen. Brian Dahle. A similar share of likely voters — 54% — approve of how Newsom is handling his job. Interestingly, the governor enjoys the support of half or more Democrats across all regions of the state — except in the Central Valley (42%), the most fiercely contested political turf in California.
Latest coverage of the 2022 general election in California
To ensure that grocery shoppers don’t see higher prices, workers don’t end up with suppressed wages and low-income areas don’t lose essential local grocery stores, Albertsons should delay a scheduled $4 billion stockholder payout until government authorities fully review its proposed merger with Kroger, Attorney General Rob Bonta and five other attorneys general wrote in a Wednesday letter to the two grocery giants. The attorneys general noted that Albertsons and Kroger together own nearly 5,000 stores (including Safeway, Vons, Pavilions, Ralphs and Food 4 Less in California) and employ more than 700,000 workers. “If the proposed merger has anticompetitive effects, nearly every corner of this country will feel them” when inflation has already caused grocery prices to skyrocket 12.2% in the last year, the prosecutors wrote. (In the Wednesday PPIC survey, 43% of likely voters said they and their family are worse off financially than they were a year ago.)
Also Wednesday, McDonald’s workers from California and across the country protested CEO Chris Kempzcinski for his company’s financial support of a proposed referendum to overturn a new law creating a state council to regulate wages and working conditions in the fast food industry.
California lawmakers don’t seem likely to revive their failed push to mandate students be inoculated against COVID-19 in order to attend school, even after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccination advisors voted last week to recommend all children get the vaccine, CalMatters’ Elizabeth Aguilera reports.
Nevertheless, some Republicans are warning that Democrats will continue to pursue a youth vaccination mandate. “The stakes in the midterm elections are now even higher,” GOP Assemblymember Kevin Kiley of Rocklin, who’s running for a hotly contested congressional seat, wrote in a blog post after the CDC recommendation. “In other words, whether we have a child vaccine mandate for COVID depends on who holds political power after November.”
The flip side of fallowing: California can both achieve its long-term clean energy goals and invest in struggling San Joaquin Valley communities by expanding solar development on fallowed farmland, write Andrew Ayres of the Public Policy Institute of California Water Policy Center and Darcy Wheeles of ArkSpring Consulting.
Opinion: Newsom v. DeSantis is our inevitable culture war. // New York Times
California Renters Caucus launched by state lawmakers who rent. // ABC 10
California correctional officer union paid $2.3 million for property where its president lives. // Sacramento Bee
Bass and Caruso differ on crime issues and policing — but not as much as many think. // Los Angeles Times
California rejected over 100,000 ballots in June, but one county bucked the trend. // Mercury News
How Los Angeles avoided the national academic plunge during the pandemic. // Wall Street Journal
Judge rules San Francisco lifetime lease ordinance is potentially unconstitutional. // Courthouse News
Fight over homeless living in RVs prompts extreme ban in this Bay Area city, lawsuit alleges. // San Francisco Chronicle
San Diego home price has biggest monthly drop since Great Recession. // San Diego Union-Tribune
Can saving a marsh also save this California town from sea level rise? // Los Angeles Times
Hundreds of East Bay homes have been named as using too much water. Many are repeat offenders. // San Francisco Chronicle
Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly slams California on Colorado River use. // Associated Press
Fresno County ag value surpasses $8 billion for the first time. // Fresno Bee
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