Californian Leader Slams Proposal to Scrap Climate Legislation

"We are not going to sit idly by and watch you dismantle our environmental achievements...which are also economic achievements," says Carl Guardino, CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, which represents over 300 of the valley's major companies (including HP, Google and IBM).

In this exclusive Fresh Dialogues interview, we examine the controversial proposal to overturn AB 32, California's landmark climate change legislation.

Here's a recap of the issue:

AB 32 is the Golden State's attempt to cap carbon emissions to 1990 levels by introducing a version of a cap-and-trade carbon tax, which would hit polluters, power plants, refineries and cement manufacturers hard.

What is Proposition 23?

Supporters call it "The California Jobs Initiative," and point to the high cost and potential job losses of implementing AB 32; but Proposition 23's main impact would be to suspend (and effectively repeal) the provisions of AB 32.

And here's how Guardino describes it:

"A veiled attempt to dismantle California's environmental achievements.

In turn, AB 32 supporters have launched a Stop Dirty Energy Prop Campaign to thwart the proposition.

Who is behind it?

Two Texas-based oil companies, Valero Energy Corporation and Tesoro Corporation, provided the initial funding to launch the Prop 23 campaign. Valero donated over $4 Million to the cause.

Guardino's argument

"This is an economic engine not a caboose and we're not going to let folks ruin the engine that continues to fuel the renewable energy, clean green economy. It's not only good for our environment - and it's critical - it's also good for our economy and jobs; and we've proved that through innovation of products, processes and what we do with our people every day in Silicon Valley."

Last month the Union of Concerned Scientists signed an open letter in support of AB 32, stating, that the measure stimulates innovation and efficiency and help the state become the global leader in technological innovation in the sector.

Who is winning?

As of today, Proposition 23 is way ahead in the (albeit unofficial) social media popularity index with over 4,500 Facebook "likes" for California Jobs Initiative compared to just under 3,000 "likes" for Stop Dirty Energy.

Although AB 32 has an impressive list of supporters, from business organization, healthcare, and the clean tech industry (obviously); Prop 23 has some deep pocketed supporters (largely from the oil industry) who aim to dominate the debate.

It seems that in light of the economic slump, the urgency of taking action to combat global warming has been lost. California is the canary in the coal mine...and the CO2 is building up fast.

Follow Fresh Dialogues on Twitter.

Check out more exclusive interviews on AB 32 and Climate Change at the Fresh Dialogues YouTube Channel.

testPromoTitleReplace testPromoDekReplace Join HuffPost Today! No thanks.