By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Independent Arianna Huffington agrees that Davis has done some good things on the environment. However, she criticizes the incumbent for not moving quickly enough, particularly when it comes to controlling greenhouse-gas emissions from cars and promoting renewable energy in California. “I would use the governor’s bully pulpit to engage the public in achieving energy independence,” said Huffington, who backs a more aggressive state program to develop wind and solar power, improve transmission lines, and increase energy efficiency, especially by requiring automakers to make more hybrid electric vehicles.
Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante earned a league rating of 100 during 1997 and 1998, voting in favor of such measures as strengthening disclosure of environmental contamination, including bilingual warnings, tougher enforcement of regulations, and funding for cleanup of diesel pollution and green buildings. He also voted to protect watersheds and the ocean environment and has fought to maintain and improve public access to beaches, particularly in the Malibu area, according to Lorena Gonzalez, his senior adviser on the environment.
“He started out a little weak until he became speaker of the Assembly,” said David Allgood, Southern California director of the League of Conservation Voters. A record compiled by Huffington’s campaign shows he cast a number of anti-environmental votes in 1995 and 1996. Bustamante, for instance, voted to weaken the state Clean Air Act by removing a requirement that pollution be reduced by 5 percent a year until health standards are met. Among many other issues, the Democrat voted to ease enforcement of water-pollution standards, sided with agribusiness and the chemical industry on relaxing controls on pesticides, backed weakening state trash-recycling requirements, and favored diluting restrictions on developing land that serves as habitats to endangered species.
Camejo favors placing a “carbon tax” on fossil fuel and then using the proceeds to subsidize renewable energy. “If we had leadership that pushed it, I think it would be met in California with great enthusiasm,” he said. To step up the state’s bid to move toward renewable energy, Camejo has proposed a plan to make production of solar-energy equipment a key industry in California over the next seven years, backed by $150 million a year in direct subsidies, plus a $1.5 billion loan-guarantee fund. Under the plan, California manufacturers would almost triple worldwide production of photovoltaic panels within that period and increase the number of panels sixfold by 2010. The plan could foster an industry that rivals the computer industry in California, say its advocates. Camejo further said he would seek to close down the state’s two nuclear-power plants and ban any further cutting of California’s remaining patches of ancient forest. Finally, he would adopt state requirements that more manufactured goods be produced to be recyclable so that companies could take them back at the end of their useful lives and reuse them.
As California voters size up the gubernatorial candidates, smog has increased, gasoline supplies are less certain, and people keep learning about more toxic chemicals in their food, water and air. While the media have been largely silent on these issues and how they relate to the election, surely many Californians will consider them when they punch their ballots on October 7.