Werbach: Corporate Titans Clashing Over California Climate Law

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Adam Werbach, fairly described as a sustainability wunderkind, made his debut on TheAtlantic.com today. He's got an interesting piece that breaks apart the idea that corporations are monolithically opposed to climate change legislation. Instead, he writes that some companies and businessmen are pushing hard to keep California's climate legislation, AB32, in place.

It's great to have Adam on the site, and I'm looking forward to reading more of his analysis of sustainability issues here and on the Business Channel.

Signed by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006, the aim of the law is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state to 1990 levels by 2020. In the absence of federal legislation in the Senate this year, let alone a global agreement at the failed Copenhagen climate negotiations, the law is the most significant climate change regulation in America today.

The advocates for the law include the environmental organizations you'd expect -- the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the League of Conservation Voters -- but they also include hedge fund manager Tom Steyer, from Farallon Capital Management, who has committed up to $5 million of his own money to support the law. His co-chair in the effort is President Reagan's Secretary of State, George Schultz, who began driving an electric car a decade before it was fashionable. Venture capitalist Vinod Khosla has described the law as the single largest source of job creation in California in the last two years; Google's "clean-energy czar" Bill Weihl calls it a key to creating the companies of the future for California.

On the other side are Tea Party funders David and Charles Koch (recently profiled by Jane Mayer in the New Yorker) along with a collection of out-of-state oil refiners, like San Antonio, Texas-based Tesoro and Valero. The Koch brothers own a variety of businesses from asphalt to paper to oil.

Read the full story at The Atlantic.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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