In addition to deciding whether or not to legalize marijuana, California voters will decide whether or not to abolish AB 32, the state’s tough climate-change legislation. The abolition measure just qualified for the November ballot. Two big oil companies, Valero Energy Inc. and Tesoro Corp., invested heavily in gathering the signatures needed to get it on the ballot and will probably spend millions on the ensuing campaign. From the “Los Angeles Times”:

Supporters of the law [AB 32] say it has spurred a large market for solar, wind and other clean energy sources.

But backers of the ballot effort, who are calling their measure “the California Jobs Initiative,” paint the climate law as “an energy tax.” Their initiative would halt enforcement of the law until unemployment in the state, now over 12%, sinks to 5.5% for at least a year. [...]

Proponents of the measure spent $3 million, more than two thirds of it contributed by the two Texas companies and other energy interests, to gather more than 800,000 signatures to place the measure on the ballot. To qualify, the initiative needed 433,971 signatures, equal to 5% of the ballots cast in the 2006 general election.

This follows the same pattern of corporations trying to buy favorable legislation through the ballot-initiative system that we saw on California’s June primary ballot. There, power company PG&E spent millions on its political power grab disguised as a ballot initiative, Proposition 16. It would have made it much harder to set up local utilities and therefore greatly enriched PG&E by protecting it from new competition. Prop. 16 failed narrowly, and we hope this measure, bankrolled by big oil to protect its corporate profits, will suffer the same fate.