SAN FRANCISCO -- Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger yesterday signed into law a sweeping global warming initiative that imposes the nation's first cap on greenhouse gas emissions, saying the effort kicks off ``a bold new era of environmental protection."
Standing on picturesque Treasure Island with San Francisco's skyline in the background, Schwarzenegger called the fight against global warming one of the most important issues of modern times.
``We simply must do everything we can in our power to slow down global warming before it is too late," Schwarzenegger said during an address before signing the bill.
Mayor Gavin Newsom and New York Governor George Pataki, as well as Democratic legislators, joined Schwarzenegger for the high-profile ceremony. Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, who struck a deal with Schwarzenegger over the summer to develop clean technologies, joined the ceremony via video link.
Blair called the bill-signing ``a proud day for political leadership" and ``a historic day for the rest of the world, as well."
California's efforts on global warming have been in the spotlight since Schwarzenegger and the state's legislative Democrats reached an accord last month on the Democrat-authored bill to cut greenhouse gases.
The negotiations culminated in the last week of the legislative session, handing the Republican governor a key victory during an election year in which he has sought to portray himself as a friend to the environment. Schwarzenegger's Democratic opponent, state treasurer Phil Angelides, also supports the new law.
It imposes a first-in-the-nation cap on emissions from utilities, refineries, and manufacturing plants to help curb the gases that scientists blame for warming the earth. Two years ago, a state board adopted tight regulations on automobile tailpipe emissions, an initiative that is being challenged in federal court by automakers.
Schwarzenegger also was expected to sign a second Democrat-sponsored global warming bill with consequences beyond the state's borders. That bill will prohibit California's large utilities and corporations from entering long-term power contracts with suppliers whose electricity sources do not meet the state's greenhouse gas emission standards.