Voters to Decide if California Invests in GHG Reduction or Jobs

California residents are facing unemployment rates as high as 15.3 percent in some areas, according to state agency reports, and voters are deciding on Tuesday whether their money would be better spent tackling that jobs issue rather than lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

Proposition 23 suspends implementation of the Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32), which was signed into law in 2006 when unemployment rates were closer to 5 percent. Assembly Bill 32 requires major sources of emissions to report and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming and is set to go into effect in 2012. Proposition 23 would hold that law in limbo until unemployment drops to 5.5 percent or less for a full year. It does not provide a plan to create jobs.

The Bureau of Labor Standards reports California's unemployment rate at 12.4 percent in August, but in specific areas of the state, such as Riverside County (15.3 percent) and Inland Empire (14.8 percent), the numbers are significantly higher.

Described as both a "Jobs Initiative" and a "Dirty Energy Initiative," the measure has garnered support from a coalition of taxpayers, employers, food producers, energy, transportation, and forestry companies calling themselves Yes on 23. The campaign receives major funding from Valero and Tesoro oil companies, according to its website. The No on 23 campaign includes business and environmental organizations for clean energy and jobs, the website says, with major funding from Thomas Steyer and the National Wildlife Federation.

At least one proponent of 23 has indicated that California is clean enough and that the state's economic prosperity should be the primary focus of government.

The Southern California Leadership Council (SCLC) on Oct. 28 advised the California Air Resources Board to consider carefully AB 32 implementation. It recommended:

  • price ceilings on carbon allowances,
  • adequate supplies of offsets,
  • free allowances for “trade exposed” industries like manufacturing and wholesale trade, and
  • a package of economic development incentives to attract and retain manufacturers whose research and development and products are focused on energy and water efficiencies, air quality and greenhouse gas reductions for advanced transportation, renewable energy and other clean technologies.

According to the SCLC press release, "Recent announcements from California-based CEOs, including those from Intel and Cisco, indicate any new expansions -- potentially with thousands of good paying jobs -- would go 'anywhere but California.' This reinforces what business relocation experts already know, that the business and regulatory climate in California is already the worst in the nation, and that California must turn around this private sector job loses to grow the economy, reduce unemployment and solve its fiscal crisis."

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