Deceptive California Proposition will Increase Pollution and Kill Jobs
Posted by Andrea Barnetche
Four years ago, California passed the state’s landmark greenhouse gas reduction law –AB 32– mandating a 25 percent reduction in industrial greenhouse gases by 2020. This law made California a leader in clean air and energy policy, and a leader in clean tech businesses in the nation. The law, which has earned support from businesses, labor, environmental and health organizations, demands polluter accountability by requiring polluting industries to reduce toxic emissions that will threaten our health and contribute to global climate change.
A ballot initiative approved last Tuesday for the November ballot, deceptively dubbed “Suspend AB32! California Jobs Initiative” aims to repeal this law. First of all, this measure asks for the suspension of AB32 until unemployment reaches 5.5% for a full year, which as we Californians all know is nearly an impossible feat. Secondly, this dirty energy proposition is based on the misguided notion that enforcing current clean air laws will lead to a statewide decrease in jobs. But the truth is that the clean energy sector is the fastest growing field in California, and according to http://www.stopdirtyenergyprop.com/, California is the national leader in the clean energy market. We are home to three out of the top five cities in the nation for clean tech, and are fortunate enough to receive 60% of the market share of clean tech venture capital investment. Additionally, due to California’s support of strict environmental laws, the state has become a mecca for clean energy businesses, with companies moving here from other states and even other countries. Repealing the current clean air and energy laws will essentially pull the rug out from under what is now the fastest growing sector of our economy, causing California to take a step backwards and lose our national competitive edge. And thirdly, the proposition will also repeal current California health and safety codes that require major polluters to report and reduce their pollution, essentially letting Texas oil and other polluters off the hook for reducing their pollution. This will inevitably lead to an increase in air pollution and drastically threaten public health. For this reason, the proposition is opposed by several health organizations including the American Lung Association in California, Blue Shield of California, California Nurses Association, and the Public Health Institute, among others. A full list of organizations that oppose the Dirty Energy Proposition can be found at http://www.stopdirtyenergyprop.com/our-coalition.php.
Not surprisingly, the oil industry has contributed 75% of the proposition’s funding to date, with two large Texas oil companies, Valero and Tesoro, being the main financial backers. One might want to ask themselves why two out-of-state oil companies (who happen to be two of the largest toxic polluters in the entire country) are spending millions of their own dollars to “save California jobs”. By trying to repeal current clean energy and clean air laws, they are also trying to protect their financial interests so that they won’t have to spend billions of their profits in pollution reduction strategies. Therefore, the truth is not that the current situation will threaten jobs, it’s that the Texas oil industry wants to kill competition from clean energy companies that may threaten their bottom line by starting to dissolve our national addiction to oil. What I want to know is, why are Texas oil companies spending so much money to kill clean energy and clean air laws in our state, when their money could be put to much better use….such as helping to clean up the Gulf oil spill? If we have learned anything from the disaster currently happening in the Gulf, it’s that we as a nation need to wean ourselves from dependence on dirty, dangerous fossil fuels, and move to clean, more healthy and environmentally friendly energy sources.
The survival of AB32 is critical to Pacific Environment’s work. We are working in California to fight new fossil fuel power plants and LNG import terminals, and to promote clean alternatives, especially locally-sited renewables. For more information on our California Clean Energy Program, click here.