California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger welcomed late Tuesday voters' rejection of a proposal to backtrack on a law limiting greenhouse gas emissions in the most populous US state.
Proposition 23, one of a series of referendums held alongside mid-term and governor polls, sought to all but repeal a 2006 Schwarzenegger-backed climate change law.
The bill, known as AB 32, pledged to return California's emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Critics said oil companies wanted to repeal it because it threatened their profits.
"The effort to suspend AB 32 was the work of greedy Texas oil companies that wanted nothing more than to keep polluting our state," the former film star said in a statement.
"Today, California voters saw through the smokescreen of these dirty oil companies and rejected their attempts to move our state backwards," added Schwarzenegger, who is due to stand down in January.
The former champion bodybuilder turned Hollywood star sees the climate change law as a key part of his political legacy as he ends seven years as California governor.
US Democrats were largely walloped in Tuesday's election, ceding control of the House of Representatives to Republicans as voters rebuffed President Barack Obama's reform platform.
But Californians elected Democratic former governor Jerry Brown to succeed Schwarzenegger.
The Austrian-born politician congratulated Brown -- who was California's governor from 1975 to 1983 -- and pledged a smooth transition over the next two months.
And he said the "No" vote on Prop 23 would ensure that fighting climate change remained a key priority for California, where a major economy is battling to recover from the global downturn.
"In California, we are going to continue moving forward with our comprehensive energy policy that creates jobs, reduces our reliance on foreign oil and ensures the California we love will be the California we hand over to the next generation," said Schwarzenegger.
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