CLIMATE:

Battle over Calif. emissions law takes shape as warring parties reveal funding sources

The campaign to put suspension of California's climate change law before voters in November started taking shape this week as warring parties revealed key sources of funding and traded barbs over the nature of their financial support.

Opposing the climate law are a Texas-based refining company that operates in California and the anti-tax Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. In documents filed with the California Secretary of State, a group calling itself the California Jobs Initiative listed Valero Energy Corp.'s director of government affairs in California, Scott Folwarkow, and Jon Coupal, president of the tax group, as its leading officers.

The documents verify Valero's involvement but say nothing about rumors that another San Antonio-based company, Tesoro Corp., has contributed funds. Coupal would not comment on Tesoro's role, insisting that more information on funding would be made public soon.

The California Jobs Initiative wants to suspend the climate law, A.B. 32 -- now set to take effect in two years -- until the state's 12.5 percent unemployment rate falls to 5.5 percent.

Coupal called the criticism that opposition to A.B. 32 was relying on out-of-state money "flatly incorrect." In-state companies from several sectors would participate, he said, if the initiative makes the November ballot.

"Transportation, agriculture and petroleum, they are the obvious ones" to join the effort, Coupal said. "There's also a fair bet that the small business coalitions are going to be highly supportive."

The campaign is in the process of gathering the 433,000 signatures needed to make the ballot, where voters would get to decide A.B. 32's fate directly. Coupal said the effort "just got off the ground" but should make the June deadline for qualification.

Opponents of the climate law, led by Republican Assemblyman Dan Logue, say its implementation would hurt the economy and add to the state's already woeful unemployment rate. Supporters counter that it would create jobs in the clean-tech sector and provide a boost to renewable energy expansion.

Coupal, in a critique of those supporters, said the financial support for the pro-A.B. 32 effort is likely to come primarily from venture capitalists and Silicon Valley companies positioned to profit from a carbon cap and its likely effect on new technology development.

"I'm sure that those who are going to be financing the opposition are those that stand to make a lot of money from green technologies," Coupal said. "He who lives in a glass house should not throw stones."

When told of Coupal's comments, the spokesman for the pro-A.B. 32 effort, Steven Maviglio, decided for the first time to name companies supporting his group, among them: Google Inc., Waste Management Inc., TechNet, Levi Strauss & Co. and Virgin America.

Maviglio argued that companies like Google, Waste Management, Levi Strauss and Virgin do not stand to profit from the climate law. They are in the campaign, he said, because they believe in the statute and California's role as the first state set to implement an economywide cap on greenhouse gas emissions.

"We're not going to make any apologies for getting support to oppose this job-killing initiative from companies that are creating thousands of high-paying jobs in the growing clean-energy industry," Maviglio said. Other companies, he added, "oppose the initiative simply because it is bad for the California economy."

Maviglio also noted that Coupal had still not revealed specific funders from within the state.

Sullivan reported from San Francisco.