Schwarzenegger’s REAL Test on Climate

Does Arnold Schwarzenegger care more about Tea Partiers or the planet?

Like any Hollywood actor, and like any politician, Arnold Schwarzenegger likes to talk a good game.  And on climate, he talks a lot.  He loves to promote inconsequential gab-fests like the Governors Global Summit on Climate Change.  But when the rubber hits the road, will he actually, you know, do anything about it?

Whether a bill on his desk gets a signature will tell us whether he is real or all puffery.

That bill is SB 406, by state Senator Mark Desaulnier.  SB 406 would allow regional planning organizations to impose a $1-2 extra vehicle license fee in order to assist in regional planning under California’s smart growth law, SB 375.

This is critical,  because California cannot meet its emissions-reduction goals unless it reduces emissions from the trasnportation sector; it cannot reduce emissions from the transportation sector unless it gives transportation dollars to those cities and counties whose land use plans reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT); and those cities and counties cannot change their land use plans unless they have the personnel to do so, which requires cash.  Most cities have substantially slashed their planning staffs because of budget cuts: Los Angeles’ visionary planning director, Gail Goldberg, has had to lay off dozens of people and put on hold her agenda for redoing community planns throughout the city.

Predictably, the right-wing crazies are screaming that a one-dollar-per-year fee increase will mean the end of the Republic.

So what’s it going to be, Governator?  Whose side are you on?  The Tea Partiers’ or the planet’s?  Photo-ops like the Climate Summit don’t mean a damn thing in comparison.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.