Capitol Alert

Arnold Schwarzenegger back in Sacramento, says California ‘terminated’ climate change opponents

Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a rare sight in Sacramento these days, but he occasionally finds time between hosting reality TV shows and crushing things with his tank for return visits to celebrate his legacy.

A 10th-anniversary commemoration of Assembly Bill 32, which established California’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, marked one of those rare events. Schwarzenegger appeared Wednesday at the California Museum with Gov. Jerry Brown and other supporters of the landmark law he signed in 2006.

“Ten years ago we passed a law that I think is the most powerful environmental law, period,” Schwarzenegger said, touting that no other state or country since has come close to California’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

Schwarzenegger regaled the crowd with recollections of the political fights around AB 32, blasting his fellow Republicans in the federal government who challenged the law and the oil companies that mounted an unsuccessful 2010 initiative to overturn it.

“How stupid must you be to say that greenhouse gas is not a pollutant?” he said. “We pushed back and pushed back and we terminated them.”

Brown, a Democrat, saluted Schwarzenegger for focusing on the environment when other Republicans would not. Then he pointed out that his predecessor originally pushed for the proposed water conveyance tunnels under the Delta and statewide high-speed rail, divisive projects that have since become legacy fights for Brown.

“Arnold, thanks for being for climate change, cap and trade, the tunnels project, high-speed rail and all the other unpopular issues I’m saddled with,” Brown joked.

As Schwarzenegger left the event, he expressed little concern for the growing resistance to California’s climate change policies among even normally sympathetic Democrats, which tanked a bill last year to mandate a reduction in gasoline use and nearly derailed another measure this session to extend the provisions of AB 32.

“They’re gonna get through it,” he said.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff