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Polluters Fund Effort at Ballot to Rollback Clean Energy Programs in California

 

This November, Californians will vote on Prop. 23, an effort funded by polluters to repeal California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 – Assembly Bill 32 - a landmark bipartisan achievement that is already creating jobs and reducing pollution in the state. If passed, the initiative would damage California’s clean-energy economy and lower unemployment levels by crippling the emerging clean energy industries. According to the California Employment Development Department, hundreds of thousands of jobs have been created thanks to these innovative policies.

Polluters Funding Deceptive Repeal Effort: The initiative is financed by Tesoro Corp. and Valero Energy Corp. in order to secure their own profits and continue our dependency on foreign fossil fuels. According to a study conducted by the University of Massachusetts, Tesoro and Valero are among the largest corporate air polluters in the country. The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and the California Environmental Justice Alliance also conclude that these oil companies are the two biggest polluters in the state of California.

The forces behind Proposition 23 have deceptively framed it as a “jobs” initiative and have stated that it would “suspend” rather than “repeal” laws requiring reducing greenhouse gas emissions until unemployment rate drops to 5.5% or less for four consecutive quarters. In reality, the initiative could mean a permanent repeal of California’s clean energy law because unemployment has only been below 5.5% three times since 1970.

What's at Stake: The Global Warming Solutions Act was signed in 2006 with support from business, labor, environmental, and health organizations. It established the first ever mandatory reporting guidelines for global warming pollution, and set a statewide limit for carbon that will guide emissions back down to 1990 levels by 2020. This limit is implemented through a scoping plan that includes establishing a price for carbon in addition to tailpipe-emissions standards, a low-carbon fuel standard, building energy-efficiency standards, and a statewide renewable electricity standard of 33% by 2020.

Thanks to California’s innovative policy, the Golden State leads the nation in clean energy employment. Clean energy jobs in California are growing 10 times faster than the statewide average. As a 2009 Pew Charitable Trusts study found, California has the largest clean energy economy of the 50 states precisely because of its state policies. Repeal of AB 32 could cost the state 100,000 new clean energy jobs. And it's thanks largely to AB 32's precedence that the federal government and other states have followed suit.

In fact, 118 economists have signed an open letter warning against delaying the implementation of clean energy policies. They have expressed their support of AB 32, emphasizing that it stimulates innovation and efficiency, helps the state become a technological leader, and improves our energy security while creating new business opportunities and more jobs. More than 400 local businesses, civic, labor and environmental organizations are also against proposition 23, including the AARP, the NAACP, the American Lung Association, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and the state’s largest gas and electric utilities.