TIME'S Kristin Kloberdanz sat down with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California to discuss his plans to sue the federal government and the Environmental Protection Agency over denying the right of California and 16 other states to set their own fuel emission standards. The governor then discussed why green is the smart color for business and politics. Excerpts from the interview:
TIME: So what do you think your odds are of winning the lawsuit against the federal government?
SCHWARZENEGGER: History is in our favor. Out of four lawsuits, we have won four. They have lost all four. It could very well be, and I think this is the direction it's going to go, they're going to lose the fifth one. We want to overturn that. Imagine that the Supreme Court had to tell the [Environmental Protection Agency] that greenhouse gases are a pollutant. Think about that. We're arguing that! Is it a pollutant or not? That to me is the most unbelievable audacity to argue that point. That just shows you where they are. We're going to go and continue forward in an aggressive way and sue and try to speed up the process. We're not going to take that lying down.
Turning to a slightly different subject, California Assembly Bill 32 (AB 32), which mandates reducing Greenhouse gases, must have initially sent shockwaves through the business community. Do you feel you won businesses over? How?
A lot of the business leaders were sitting there [with us] when we celebrated AB 32. And they were sitting there in front of the Capitol when we came up with the executive order with low carbon fuel standards, in January. The oil company executives were sitting there, the environmentalists were sitting there, car manufacturers were sitting there. The reason for this is, we don't go and say this is the kind of law we pass, like it or not. We go out for a year and really talk to the stakeholders. That's very important. That doesn't mean everyone will be on board, as you know, to have everyone come to an agreement, that very rarely happens, not even in a marriage does it happen. That's a rarity right there.
You have so many manufacturers and so many companies together, [and they may say this is] something that will be really tough for me, and I don't know if I can do it in time. All those things, but they do it. The bottom line is, we've gotten great support right from the beginning, and from very unusual partners. That was really good and it helps us move the agenda forward. When big companies like that [Pacific Gas and Electric] sign on to it and say we endorse this, then other companies are going to look at this list of endorsements and follow.
How do you see your leadership and California's role in the environmental movement?
People feel proud that they're part of a state where we always make the first move and then it has a rippling effect all over the world, not just in our state. I think that was always the idea, not to just think about what does it do for California, but what does it do for the rest of the world.
We want to let the world know, you don't have to wait for anybody. Even if you're just a city in India and if the Indian government doesn't go along with it yet, you can already make a move. Or if you're some state in Australia, you can make a move. We want to inspire everyone and we want to let people know that the wonderful things that are done in America, that it was at a mayor's conference in Los Angeles a few months ago, there were [approximately] 600 mayors who had signed on to the Kyoto Treaty. They are all doing their share. There are so many states in the United States that have already signed onto that. There are so many great things that are happening despite the fact that Washington is falling behind.
How has early action been key for California as far as paving the way to a clean tech economy?
First, we have to recognize, how do you measure all of this? We have [the University of California at] Berkeley and different labs working with us. You can talk all you want about losing weight, but if you don't step on that scale and figure out, ok this is my body weight, if you don't go to someone that has a way of measuring your body fat, if through water tanks or other measures, then you know ok my body fat was 12%, and my body weight was this, now let's see three months later how much progress you've made. Well, how do we do that with this? ...We'll see how much emissions there [are] with the different industries, and then we'll start regulating it and tightening the noose. We need to really have a ramp-up time, that's important so that come 2020, we want to have the reduction of 25% of greenhouse gas emissions and we want to be at the 1990 level. We want to show that we not only just pass the laws but that we take [them] seriously.
But there are clearly costs upfront to making the transition to this clean tech economy. Are there benefits to doing so early?
There are huge benefits because it creates jobs. Now people have to invent new things because we know the most important thing in all this is technology. You can still fly the big plane, you can still drive the big car, but imagine if the plane has no greenhouse gas emissions. It's not the size of the plane, it's just that we need to change the technology of what the engine should be and what should it run on. General Electric is working on that. I've just seen... one of their... engines that are 20% more energy efficient. And we have seen cars. As a matter of fact, a car was delivered to me today. We changed the engine to see how we could make more efficient. It was biodiesel. We took the gas engine out and put the biodiesel engine in. It has more horsepower than it ever had before but it is 50% more energy efficient and it puts out 40% less greenhouse gas emissions.
This is why technology will create jobs, it will create more revenues, more businesses. We have seen that capital venture, there's been billions of dollars pumped into the economy all in that direction. I think that it has great opportunities here. The things people are worried about, that people will lose jobs because businesses will move away, we've seen the opposite.
You've seen growth, as opposed to a shifting of resources?
We've seen shifting and also growth, especially green technology growth. I was in China recently. I talked to Youngman manufacturing, one of the largest manufacturers in China. They're going to build a plant here. They're going to build cars here that are all electric. ZAP cars. It's unbelievable. It's all electric. You come home at night and plug it in.... This state is booming when it comes to research and development of green technology.
How do you, a Republican governor, fight this on a non-partisan level? Why is this so important to you?
I always felt there are certain things that are clearly political. You see one party is for one thing, the other party is for something else. But there are some issues where that fight should never really take place. If you really think about ultimately what is the final goal, which is to help people live in a clean environment or to have healthcare or education, certain things like that where you should really work together as a party and just say what can we do together to improve education or the environment. We have to stress that post-partisanship or bi-partisanship in all of those things. We've seen it over and over when both parties work together, it happens. And what we're trying to promote always is: try to put your loyalty to the people not towards your party. We're not party servants, we're public servants.