Saturday, September 27, 2008

Schwarzenegger: Any president better than Bush on global warming

SAN FRANCISCO — Either John McCain or Barack Obama would do a better job of dealing with global warming than President Bush has done, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Friday.

The governor addressed the Commonwealth Club of California at the Fairmont Hotel on the eve of the two-year anniversary of AB32, California's Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. Ten other states have enacted similar laws since, he said, all realizing "Washington is asleep at the wheel, we cannot look for leadership there."

Asked later what climate-change advice he has for the next president, he replied, "It doesn't matter who is going to get in, it is going to be better than this administration."

The next president must set realistic, firm goals for reducing greenhouse-gas pollution, he said, and encourage a panoply of renewable energy sources without putting too much stock in any single one. And he said the next president not only should overturn the Bush administration's denial of California's request for a waiver letting the state regulate automobile tailpipe emissions but should adopt those stringent regulations nationwide.

Schwarzenegger endorsed John McCain in January, before McCain had clinched the Republican nomination. McCain has advanced a global-warming plan, but his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, has said she doesn't believe global warming is caused by human behavior.

AB32 requires that the state's greenhouse gas emissions be Advertisementreduced to 1990 levels by 2020, a roughly 25 percent reduction under business-as-usual estimates.

The Western Climate Initiative last week announced final design recommendations for a regional cap-and-trade system for reducing carbon emissions in seven Western states and four Canadian provinces.

And Schwarzenegger said his office is planning a world summit on global warming for November in California "to form a broad international alliance" in advance of December's United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Poland.

As nations argue about who is to go first in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, he said Friday, "California is already there. "... We are already a model for the rest of the world."

Critics urging California to slow its climate-change work because of the sour national economy and the state's whopping budget deficit don't see the big picture, he said. "The problem is, as far as I'm concerned, too serious to get stuck in that kind of short-term thinking ... California will not wait, and America also should not wait."

Responding to audience questions read by Commonwealth Club Vice President Greg Dalton, Schwarzenegger said he believes a federal bailout of the financial industry is warranted so long as taxpayers get money back when the industry turns around. "It's inevitable that you have to intervene, that you have to help. "... Sometimes government is needed."

The governor also vowed to keep opposing oil drilling off California's shores, despite the GOP's steadfast advocacy and a poll showing a majority of Californians now support it.

He recalled the oil tar that marred his beloved Muscle Beach in Venice from 1969's oil platform disaster off Santa Barbara.

"The people of California don't want to go through that again. We must protect our pristine coastline," he said. "I have promised to do all I can to reduce offshore drilling, and I will keep my promise to the people of California."

And the governor said he'll take a close look at two pollution-reducing bills on his desk: SB375 by incoming state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, to enable regional land-use planning and direct state funding to reduce suburban sprawl and passenger-vehicle mileage; and SB974 by state Sen. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, to levy a fee on containers entering through California's ports to pay for traffic and air-pollution reduction around those ports. Palin has urged Schwarzenegger to veto SB974.

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