On Monday, the Assembly Natural Resources Committee rejected AB 118, legislation that would have overturned California’s landmark global warming law that has enjoyed broad bipartisan support. Not only would AB 118 have jeopardized public health and the environment, it would have imposed economic harm at a time when California is already struggling to regain our financial footing.
Campaign tactic – This bill, gutted and amended just this week, was part of a statewide campaign to stymie California’s economic recovery and deny workers the opportunity to benefit from the emerging new energy economy. Mr. Logue, along with Rep. Tom McClintock and the association founded by Paul Gann, have filed an initiative nearly identical to AB 118 with the California Attorney General’s office with the intention of circulating it for signatures to qualify for the November 2010 general election.
Disrupts business investment – Suspension of AB 32, the State’s landmark Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, would cause economic distress and create an uncertain business environment for thousands of California employers who have played by the rules by investing in clean technology, setting up training programs, retooling equipment and taking other actions to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and stimulate the economy.
Wastes scarce private and public dollars – The California Air Resources Board (CARB), the agency responsible for implementing AB 32, has worked diligently to meet the deadlines set forth in AB 32, taking care to “evaluate the total potential costs and total potential economic…benefits of the plan for reducing greenhouse gasses to California’s economy…using the best available economic models…and the potential for adverse effects on small businesses (sections CA Health and Safety Code sections 38560.5(d)(e) (emphasis added). Imposing a sporadic “suspension” would upend scarce private and public investments.
Reverses economic efficiencies – While we all know that global economic conditions have taken a toll on our national and state economies, here in California, we have an unparalleled record of generating economic profit while controlling pollution because we have been doing both for the last 35 years. State energy policies have saved California households $56 billion from 1972-2006.
Reduces California’s competitiveness – California already boasts five of the nation’s top 10 cities for clean tech investment (San Jose, Berkeley, Pasadena, San Francisco and San Diego). In 2008, U.S. California-based companies received approximately 40 percent of total US clean tech venture investments.
Increases costs – When it comes to climate change, the most expensive thing we can do is nothing and the second most expensive option is to delay action. The annual economic impacts of climate-induced damage in California’s energy sector will range from $2.7 billion in the low warming scenario to $6.3 billion in the high warming scenario. Overall, $21 billion in energy assets are at risk.
California continues to make history as an economic and environmental innovator. AB 118 would have imposed economic harm, damage public health and threaten California’s competitive advantage as a first actor in the global race to a clean energy economy.
Ann Notthof is Natural Resources Defense Council’s California advocacy director. She coordinates statewide campaigns and represents NRDC in the state capitol on a wide range of issues including global warming, water policy and coast and ocean protection.