LOS ANGELES, Sept. 2, 2006 -- Just days after California passed legislation restricting greenhouse gas emissions, Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said fighting for environmental issues is important, even if that meant opposing the president.
"I don't think one should look at greenhouse gas emissions or global warming as a political issue," Schwarzenegger told ABC News. "So, if that policy of fighting global warming is against our, the Bush Administration, then so be it."
State legislators passed a deal this week, making California the first state to impose across-the-board strict greenhouse gas emissions cuts on industry, energy plants and businesses. The legislation proposed to cut carbon emissions by 25 percent. They are the same sorts of regulations a growing number of national legislators of both parties believe could make their way to Capitol Hill next year.
"California has always been a leader in a lot of different things," Schwarzenegger said. "Global warming is one of those things, not like an earthquake where there's a big bang and you say, 'Oh, my God, this is really, has hit us.' It creeps up on you. … Half a degree temperature difference from one year to the next, a little bit of rise of the ocean, a little bit of melting of the glaciers, and then all of a sudden it is too late to do something about it."
Schwarzenegger faces a re-election battle this fall, but said if Bush advisor Karl Rove were to call offering the president's help, he would decline the help because of the president's lack of popularity in California.
"I would say that this is something that I can handle myself," he said. "I think that it is something that is between me and the people of California."
In the past year, Schwarzenegger's approval rating jumped from 36 to 49 percent. After taking a beating for governing as an anti-union, right-leaning Republican, he's gained approval by cutting deals with the Democratic legislature on the minimum wage, prescription drugs and now global warming.
"The message was loud and clear: Don't come to us about every problem. Go and work with the legislators," he said of the turnaround. "So, this year I said, 'Okay, I'm going to change it a little bit: I'm going to work with the legislators,' meaning with the Republicans and the Democrats."