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Governator's Gold Rush | Oil Watchdog

Governator's Gold Rush

Sun, Nov 25, 2007 at 4:57 pm

    Governator's Gold Rush

    The Calgary Herald (Alberta, Canada)
    November 25, 2007

    by Edward Robinson, Bloomberg

    The Governator’s Gold Rush;

    Arnold
    Schwarzenegger is shaping America’s climate change agenda. But critics
    say the billions pouring into California’s green industries are chasing
    Hollywood hype.

    Arnold Schwarzenegger needed help. It was Aug. 9, 2003, three days
    after the Austrian-born actor had stunned Californians by announcing
    his bid to unseat Gray Davis, the Democratic governor, in a recall
    election. Overnight, Schwarzenegger had morphed from a gun-toting
    action star into a leading contender to become chief executive of the
    world’s eighth-largest economy.

    Now, he was rushing to form a platform. Near the top of his list: global warming.

    "I did not come into this campaign as an environmental expert,"
    says Schwarzenegger, who read the conservation speeches of President
    Theodore Roosevelt on his Gulfstream jet as he travelled east that
    August.

    He was spending the weekend at the Kennedy compound in Hyannis
    Port, Mass., with his wife, Maria Shriver, a member of late president
    John F. Kennedy’s clan. Schwarzenegger discussed his nascent
    environmental ideas with Robert Kennedy Jr., Shriver’s cousin and an
    outspoken environmentalist. Kennedy put Schwarzenegger in touch with
    Terry Tamminen, founder of Santa Monica Baykeeper, a group that combats
    water pollution in Southern California.

    Tamminen was skeptical. He’d raised money for vice-president Al
    Gore’s White House run in 2000 and was critical of the Republican
    record. Now Schwarzenegger, 60, a Hummer-driving Republican, was asking
    a tree-hugging Democrat for advice.

    "The Republican Party hadn’t covered itself with environmental
    glory," says Tamminen. "Then I thought, this man could be the next
    governor, so don’t we want to make sure he has the most-progressive
    policies?"

    Four years later, the "governator" has ushered in the Global
    Warming Solutions Act, the first U.S. legislation of its kind. The law,
    which Schwarzenegger signed on Sept. 27, 2006, requires California’s
    industries to cut greenhouse pollutants such as carbon dioxide 25 per
    cent, to 1990 levels, by 2020.

    Five states — New Jersey, Minnesota, Washington, Oregon and
    Hawaii — have passed look-alike laws this year. Three bills in the
    U.S. Senate and two in the House of Representatives are pressing for 14
    per cent CO2 reduction tar-gets by 2020.

    "California is the model," says Daniel Esty, director of the
    Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy. "Governors in a dozen
    states are now taking the issue seriously, and the groundwork is being
    laid for a federal policy."

    Other leaders rang the climate alarm before Schwarzenegger did.
    Gore called for environmental changes when he was vice president and
    heightened the debate with his 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth
    and his Nobel Peace Prize, which was awarded in October. Yet, it’s
    Schwarzenegger, a former bodybuilding champion who conquered Tinseltown
    by playing an unstoppable cyborg called the Terminator, who is writing
    America’s global warming script.

    "I was very determined to prove that you could create economic
    growth and protect the environment simultaneously," he says. "I knew
    that my strength was being a Republican. I could win the business
    community over."

    U.S. policy will create huge ramifications for the rest of the
    world: America is the No. 2 source of greenhouse gases, after China. If
    average global temperatures rise 3 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, as
    many scientists predict, California’s snowpack in the Sierra Nevada
    mountains could decline more than 70 per cent, jeopardizing the water
    supply for a projected 60 million people, according to the California
    Environmental Protection Agency.

    Schwarzenegger’s
    critics suspect his crusade is more Hollywood razzle-dazzle than
    hard-nosed policy. Jamie Court, president of advocacy group Foundation
    for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, says the governor is an opportunist
    who seized on global warming because going green is popular with
    voters. "He deserves credit for pulling off a massive show," Court
    says. "But when the public doesn’t see results, they shouldn’t be
    surprised."

    Environmentalists who’ve worked with Schwarzenegger beg to
    differ. "He’s serious about getting this right, and no one else could
    get the kind of media attention he can," says Fran Pavley, a Democrat
    and former legislator from Southern California who co-authored the
    global warming law.

    With results — and winners — to be determined,
    Schwarzenegger’s agenda has spurred a gold rush. The venture
    capitalists who midwifed the Internet boom have poured funds into the
    governor’s coffers and into startups making everything from so-called
    clean coal to ethanol derived from wood chips. Investments almost
    doubled in North America to $3 billion in 2006 from $1.6 billion in
    2005, according to CleanTech Venture Network LLC.

    Wall Street traders are eager to cash in on the green agenda.
    The governor is overseeing the establishment of an electronic
    cap-and-trade market set for 2012 that will permit buying and selling
    of carbon emission credits like a commodity.

    The environmental policies that Schwarzenegger started forming
    that weekend in Hyannis Port are setting corporations, politicians,
    bankers, VCs and traders on a tumultuous path.

    In the next decades, the world will see whether the governor’s
    global warming crusade is a good policy — or just old-fashioned
    Hollywood hype.

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