Last week, we took a look at Arnold Schwarzenegger's environmental platform. With the California gubernatorial recall vote imminent, we look at how green are the records of Governor Gray Davis and Schwarzenegger's two other main rivals.
CURWOOD: With Californians deciding whether to recall their governor, last week we looked at Arnold Schwarzenegger’s environmental priorities with Living on Earth Western Bureau Chief Ingrid Lobet, and she’s back with us on the line. How’s the campaign trail?
LOBET: There was one incident with Schwarzenegger in the last few days where a farmer in the Central Valley asked him “Why does California need to have it’s own regulatory body, CALEPA, when there’s already a federal EPA?” and Mr. Schwarzenegger suggested that he might eliminate the state’s Environmental Protection Agency. A Schwarzenegger staff person later said that he only meant eliminating any duplicated functions.
CURWOOD: Talk to me about the Democratic side here for a moment. Remind us about Governor Gray Davis and his record on the environment. Now, I remember last year he signed the country’s first law addressing climate change by regulating car and vehicle exhaust. That’s a pretty big deal. What else has he done?
LOBET: That was a big deal. It may be his most high profile and significant environmental policy act so far, but he’s done a lot that pleases environmentalists over time. When he picked the person to lead CALEPA, the umbrella regulatory body here, he picked the head of the California League of Conservation Voters. He went out and stumped for three huge environmental bond measures that have allowed beach water cleanup and the acquisition of open space. He signed a law requiring 20 percent of electrical power to come from renewable energy by 2017. He has signed significant legislation on children’s environmental health issues, and recently several bills to clean up the air in the San Joaquin Valley. The list is pretty long. I could go on.
CURWOOD: How much is Governor Davis trumpeting his environmental record during this recall campaign?
LOBET: He is trumpeting it somewhat, and it is true that he has signed a lot of environmental legislation recently. And maybe there’s some of it that he wouldn’t have signed without the recall, in particular, several land deals that sound as though they’re being rushed through. But other actions, like signing a compact with the governors of Washington and Oregon on steps to address climate change, he might well have that anyway. And some of it is also a question of legislators taking advantage of the fact that he is under pressure to bring these bills to his desk now.
CURWOOD: Now, if Governor Davis loses this recall, on the other part of the ballot his lieutenant governor, Cruz Bustamonte, is there for Democrats. What do we know about his stances on land, air, and water issues?
LOBET: Well, Mr. Bustamonte comes originally from the Central Valley, and when he was in the state legislature he voted the way you might expect a rural Democrat to vote. He pushed legislation to allow landowners more freedom in developing their land where endangered species might live. He voted to allow farmers to continue using methyl bromide. But over time, observers agree that Cruz Bustamonte moved toward the environmentalist side. One thing that he did that everyone on the conservation side remembers him very fondly for was to fire four members of the Coastal Commission and replace them with pro-conservation commission members. He also supported the recent push to make farmers in the Central Valley take measures to clean up the valley’s terrible air. He adopted a zero tolerance policy on oil spills as lieutenant governor. The League of Conservation Voters gave him a 100 percent rating in 1997 and 1998.
CURWOOD: Let’s go back to the Republicans for a moment, Ingrid, and look at state Senator Tom McClintock, the other major candidate here. How different are his views?
LOBET: Tom McClintock is an articulate conservative. On most environmental matters he agrees with the Bush administration. He thinks that major industries should be free to expand without installing air pollution equipment. He disagrees with California’s new CO2 law, and he probably wouldn’t defend it. He does not agree with telling landowners what they can and cannot do on their land.
CURWOOD: Sounds like Mr. McClintock would be a stark contrast to Mr. Schwarzenegger and the other candidates.
LOBET: McClintock would represent a real change in environmental direction for California. And I think it’s good to remember that whoever wins in the recall election will lead the most powerful environmental program in the country, besides the federal government, and one that sometimes outmaneuvers the federal government.
CURWOOD: Ingrid, if the recall succeeds, where do you think the liberal, green vote would go? You’d think typically they’d be interested in Peter Comejo, the Green party candidate – also, there was Ariana Huffington, who I guess has pulled out. What do you think they’ll do?
LOBET: Well, it’s really so hard to say, and none of the experts want to speculate very much. I imagine those people are very much struggling with their vote right now. Peter Comejo, the Green candidate, has let them know he’s not going to blame them if they go ahead and vote for Bustamonte, so I expect some of them are going to do that. The Davis people right now are really focusing very hard on those voters, and trying to persuade them that they should do anything to keep Arnold Schwarzenegger from being elected and to vote “no” on the recall.
CURWOOD: Ingrid Lobet heads Living on Earth’s western bureau. Thanks, Ingrid.
LOBET: Thanks, Steve.
[MUSIC: Wes Montgomery “California Dreamin’” COMPACT JAZZ (Verve)]
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