Prop. 23 Would Kill State’s Green Jobs

Adriana Orellana

On Nov. 2, California voters will get to decide whether or not to pass Proposition 23, a statute that aims to suspend California’s Global Warming Act of 2006, also known as AB32, which will cut greenhouse gas emissions in the state.

The information on the election ballot says Proposition 23 will suspend the implementation of AB32, which requires major sources of emissions to report and reduce greenhouse gases that cause global warming, until the state unemployment rate drops to 5.5 percent or less for a full year.

California’s unemployment rate, which is currently 12 percent, has been below 5.5 percent only four times since 1980.

Currently, there are 2.3 million Californians unemployed. Economists predict that for the next five years, the state’s unemployment rate will remain above 8 percent, which would mean that AB32 would remain suspended for many years.

AB32, passed by the California State Legislature and signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, is expected to begin in 2012 and would reduce the emission levels to the 1990 levels by 2020.

The proposition has come to be known by the names that its supporters and opponents have called it. Supporters call it the California Jobs Initiative, while opponents call it the Dirty Energy Proposition.

The California Voter Information Guide states that the fiscal impact of Proposition 23 passing will most likely be a modest net increase in overall economic activity in the state from suspension of greenhouse gases regulatory activity, resulting in a potentially significant net increase in state and local revenues.

Meg Whitman, California’s Republican gubernatorial candidate, who has been avidly saying for weeks that if she was elected she would suspend the Global Warming law of 2006 for a year, said during a recent debate against Democratic candidate Jerry Brown, “I will not only delay the law AB32, but I would also fix it,” adding that the law will be damaging to the rest of the jobs in the economy, especially because only 3 percent of California’s jobs are green jobs.

Whitman wants to change the law so it isn’t damaging to the other 97 percent of California jobs, and still protects the 3 percent of green jobs.

Brown has said that if he is elected he is in support of making changes to AB32, but that he would not suspend it because he is in support of it.

Supporters of Proposition 23 argue that a “yes” on 23 will save jobs and prevent energy tax increases. Other reasons people support the proposition are that passing Proposition 23 will help save a million jobs that will be destroyed, and that California cannot afford the energy costs that will not reduce global warming, said the Yes on 23 committee on a rebuttal to the opponents of the proposition in the California Voter Guide.

Many of the proposition’s supporters include oil companies such as Valero Energy Corporation and Tesoro Companies, who along with Flint Hills Resources have donated more than $6.7 million to the initiative committee. Other supporters include The California Republican party, Steve Poizner, and U.S. Congressman Tom McClintock.

Opponents of Proposition 23 say that this was designed by Texas oil companies to kill clean air and energy pollution regulations in California, which will end up threatening public health, increase dependence on costly oil, and kills competition from wind and solar companies’ job creation.

“This measure is a polluter’s dream and will kill a clean energy economy for California,” said Democratic consultant Steven Maviglio, who works for “Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs.” Many of the opponents include numerous health affiliated associations, like the American Lung Association- California, American Association of Pediatrics in California, and Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality District.

The Pasadena Chamber of Commerce and the Greater San Fernando Valley Chamber of Commerce are also against Prop. 23, as well as Gov. Schwarzenegger, the California Teachers Association, and Warner Bros. Entertainment.

“Proposition 23 would allow polluters to avoid laws that require them to reduce harmful greenhouse gases and air pollution. 23 is a serious threat to public health,” said Jane Warner, President of the American Lung Association in California.

In a recent poll conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California, results showed that among likely voters, 48 percent will vote against Prop. 23, while 37 percent will vote in favor.

“Those oil companies are spending millions on a deceptive campaign because if 23 passes, it will allow them and other polluters to escape accountability and increase their own profits,” said a statement made by the No on Prop. 23 committee in the Official Voter Information Guide for California’s General Election.

Nov. 2 will be the date when Californians can make a decision to have air pollution and greenhouse gases reduced by voting NO on 23 or, saving a few jobs and preventing energy tax increases by voting YES on 23.