The "AB 32 Implementation Group": A Wolf in Green Clothing

In 2006, the California legislature passed AB 32, the "Global Warming Solutions Act," which requires the state to bring its greenhouse gas emissions down to 1990 levels by the year 2020. Since then, a coalition with the helpful-sounding name the "AB 32 Implementation Group" has appeared, claiming to represent green businesses and a broad section of California interests focused on global warming regulations. The Implementation Group's Web site features photos of white clouds and flowers, and the organization is being managed by a big public relations firm, Woodward & McDowell. In truth, the Group actually represents 22 of California's biggest carbon polluters (as ranked by the California Air Resources Board), and, according to environmentalists and lawmakers, is engaged in a steady campaign to undermine the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. Even some of its own member businesses were surprised to learn that the group was trying to negatively impact the global warming law. The PR firm Woodward & McDowell has a history of working with the tobacco industry to defeat clean indoor air laws and working with polluting industries to defeat environmental measures. In the 1990s, it helped defeat California's Proposition 128, also known as "Big Green," which would have enacted a number of environmentally-friendly measures related to pesticides, water quality and old-growth forests. The Group's co-chair said in an interview that she supports suspending AB 32, saying "It will add significant costs to manufacturing, particularly in the electricity side." A chief sponsor of the Group is California's Chamber of Commerce, and its membership includes the Western States Petroleum Association, which represents ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, Tesoro, Valero and BP.