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The California Jobs Initiative (Suspend AB32) will be on State Ballot

...and now watch the propagandists get to work! Fran Pavley, Arnold Schwarzenegger and CARB fear the worst.


Climate law debate centers on economy

Opponents of AB 32 argue it is a job-killer

Monday, May 3, 2010 at 1:14 a.m.

When Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed his administration’s signature environmental law in 2006, he spoke of it as a jobs measure.

“Unquestionably, it is good for businesses,” he said then. “Not only large, well-established businesses, but small businesses that will harness their entrepreneurial spirit to help us achieve our climate goals.”

The measure, Assembly Bill 32, put California at the forefront in the effort to fight global warming, calling for the state to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, a reduction of roughly 25 percent.

Four years later, the measure is under attack from some quarters as a job-killer that will make it difficult for the state to compete economically.

Today, opponents plan to submit signatures for a proposition on the November ballot that would suspend the law’s provisions until the state’s unemployment rate — at 12.6 percent in March — drops to 5.5 percent or less for four consecutive quarters. That has happened only twice in the past 11 years: from April 2005 through August 2007, and from April 1999 through July 2001. 

When Schwarzenegger signed the law in September 2006, the state’s unemployment rate was 4.8 percent.

The initiative effort is funded in large part by oil companies, which are affected because of the law’s effect on refineries.

“It’s going to be a long summer and into the fall,” said Anita Mangels, a spokeswoman for proponents of the proposed change to the law.

If the initiative qualifies for the ballot and is approved by voters, the law could be put on hold so long that the state might not reach the 2020 deadlines.

The costs of the environmental regulations will send jobs elsewhere, said Dorothy Rothrock, a lobbyist for the California Manufacturers & Technology Association.

Manufacturers are already wary of the state’s high costs and strict regulations, she said.

“It’s not like we have headroom to impose new costs and stay as a vibrant economy,” Rothrock said during a round-table discussion Friday at the University of San Diego sponsored by the San Diego County Taxpayers Association.

Although 11.7 percent of the nation’s manufacturing capacity is in California, just 1.2 percent of new manufacturing was located here over the past two years, Rothrock said.

The state’s climate change law is far from the only thing behind those statistics, said Scott Anders, who heads the Energy Policy Initiatives Center at USD’s School of Law.

Regulators are looking for ways to deal with the question of jobs going elsewhere, he said.

More important, he said, is that the law’s opponents are not considering the green jobs, new technologies and lower health care costs that could result from curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

“There is a potential cost of doing nothing,” Anders said. “There’s a potential cost of inaction.”

The state is already moving toward implementing many of the law’s goals, said Michael Murray, a lobbyist for Sempra Energy, parent company of San Diego Gas & Electric Co.

He estimated that to get to 1990 emission levels, the state will have to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent.

Of that, 85 percent will be achieved through existing or planned measures, such as increasing the amount of solar and wind power, improving energy efficiency and limiting pollution from cars and trucks.

That leaves about 15 percent that would be achieved through a cap-and-trade program in which emission limits would be set for businesses; those below the cap could sell the excess capacity as credits to businesses over the limit.

“Every one of us wants to do it right,” Murray said. “Whether you talk to the Air Resources Board or any of the stakeholders, we all want to do it right, for what’s best for California.”

The problem is that California can’t make a difference by going it alone, said San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts, who sits on the state’s Air Resources Board, which is charged with implementing the law.

He added that when the law was passed, the expectation was that others would follow, but that hasn’t happened.

“In Sacramento, it’s like gospel, if we come up with a new regulation, we’ll cause California’s economy to respond in a wonderful way,” Roberts said. “This is total nonsense.”

The costs of the environmental law are outweighing the benefits, said Bryan Bloom, who has a moving company in San Diego.

“We all want cleaner air, but it’s already to the point where the marginal benefits … are not worth it,” he said.

USD’s Anders said it’s unclear whether the climate law will hurt the economy.

“I’m not sure we can conclude there are no clean jobs being created or no clean-energy jobs,” Anders said.

Holly Lepre, vice president of CleanTECH San Diego, an industry group working to develop a green industry cluster, said it is too soon to assess the law’s local impact.

She said there are 700 companies locally that have spent more than $1 billion working on clean technologies.

“We see this as a tremendous opportunity,” she said.

Onell Soto: (619) 293-1280; onell.soto@uniontrib.com




Monday, May 3, 2010

California voters will decide the fate of the state's landmark global-warming bill in the November election after a big-bucks battle that may break records for political spending on an initiative.

Today, a group heavily backed by Texas oil giants Tesoro Corp. and Valero Energy Corp. plans to submit signatures for an initiative seeking to suspend AB32 until California's unemployment rate improves dramatically.

The group, the California Jobs Initiative Committee, says the sweeping environmental bill - signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006 and set to be phased in between 2012 and 2020 - will kill jobs and hurt businesses.

AB32's proponents call it a vital step in efforts to curb greenhouse gases and create green jobs. And with federal climate-change regulations stalled in Congress, the California law takes on added significance as a potential model for other states.

Anita Mangels, a spokeswoman for the California Jobs Initiative, said Sunday that the group expects to submit more than 800,000 signatures today, well above the 435,000 needed to qualify a ballot initiative.

AB32 "will put over 1 million California jobs at risk and will cost consumers, businesses and taxpayers billions of dollars in higher energy costs, without doing anything to reduce global warming," Mangels said.

The anti-AB32 group raised almost $1 million in the first quarter and paid more than half of it to petition-circulating organizations, state records show. Most donations came from large energy concerns, with Valero putting in $500,000 and Tesoro donating $100,000. Tesoro added $175,000 in April.

A spokesman for Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs, which supports AB32, said the measure has already had a positive impact on California's economy as existing and new businesses prepare for it.

"It has attracted more than half a million jobs to the state in clean energy," said Steve Maviglio. "It's forced our utilities to invest very heavily in renewables so they can comply by 2020 when it goes into full effect. It's made California the leader in clean energy and clean technology."

The pro-AB32 group took in $665,400 in the first quarter. The bulk of it - $500,000 - came from the Green Tech Action Fund, a political group backed by the Energy Foundation, a San Francisco concern that supports renewable energy and receives donations from large foundations such as the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

Under AB32, California must reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020, returning them to 1990 levels. Its most controversial aspect is a cap-and-trade system, in which polluting businesses can buy credits from nonpolluters.

A study by the California Air Resources Board said the bill would have a negligible effect on the economy, lopping 0.2 percent (about $4 billion) off the gross state product in 2020 if the plan goes into effect. However, the study said, the bill would create 10,000 jobs.

Although AB32 would cause some increases in energy prices, those would be offset by increased efficiencies, the air board said.

The measure expected to be on November's ballot asks voters to suspend AB32 until California's unemployment rate, currently at 12.5 percent, stays at 5.5 percent or below for four consecutive quarters.

"We're just saying, 'Let's wait until unemployment goes down to a reasonable, manageable figure,' " Mangels said.

But Maviglio said the goal is unrealistic, as the state has only hit the proposed target three times in the past decade.

"Make no mistake, this initiative is designed to kill this clean-energy law, not suspend it," he said.

E-mail Carolyn Said at csaid@sfchronicle.com.



Monday, May 3, 2010

(05-03) 14:53 PDT Sacramento, Calif. (AP) --

A coalition of business groups turned in signature petitions Monday for a ballot initiative that would unravel Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's top environmental priority.

If the California Jobs Initiative qualifies for the November ballot, as expected, voters will be asked to consider putting the brakes on the nation's most far-reaching global warming law.

Schwarzenegger immediately blasted "greedy oil companies" for trying to set back his sweeping environmental policy.

The 2006 law, known as AB32, seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in California and imposes new requirements on power plants, manufacturers and other businesses.

A number of business groups warn that regulations needed to enact the law would cost jobs and prompt billions of dollars in higher energy prices. John Kabateck, executive director of the National Federation of Business California, said that's a cost businesses cannot shoulder as they struggle in a weak economy.

"While the goals of AB32 are admirable, clearly the implementation of this at this time ... would be a death knell for many small businesses," Kabateck said at a news conference.

The initiative would delay climate regulations until California's unemployment rate — now at 12.6 percent — drops to 5.5 percent and stays there for a year. That's only happened three times in the past three decades, according to California Employment Development Department statistics.

Economists expect California's job recovery will be slow.

"That could be a really long way off," Brad Kemp, director of regional research at Beacon Economics, said of the 5.5 percent benchmark. "It's like saying we have to get to full capacity before we can even begin to consider this."

Kemp has forecast the unemployment rate will still exceed 8 percent in 2015.

The ballot initiative is largely being funded by Texas oil companies that oppose climate regulations in California and similar legislation moving through Congress. Valero Services Inc. has given $500,000, while Tesoro Cos. has given $275,000.

Schwarzenegger vowed to fight the initiative if it qualifies for the ballot.

"We will do everything we can in this state to raise money, bring stakeholders together," the governor said.

Schwarzenegger said the state will continue to lead the nation with its strong environmental policy.

"California is 40 percent more energy efficient than the rest of the country," he said. "Now greedy oil companies want to roll back that cut, they want us to depend on just oil."

Environmental groups, utilities and green technology companies claim the oil companies are striving to topple California's law and derail climate legislation in Congress.

"This is not a suspension. What we're talking about is a repeal," said Jan Schori, former general manager of the Sacramento Municipal Utilities District, who has joined the campaign to oppose the initiative.

"From my perspective, I would say the oil companies, instead of spending money on this initiative, should be in the Gulf of Mexico dealing with their own problem," he said.

Supporters of the initiative submitted more than 800,000 signatures to county registrars. About 434,000 verified signatures are needed to qualify for the November ballot.

___

Associated Press Writer Robin Hindery contributed to this report.




The latest on California politics and government

Leaders of a drive to suspend California's landmark greenhouse gas emissions law claim they will submit enough voter signatures Monday to place the issue before voters.

The California Jobs Initiative Campaign will submit more than the required 435,000 voter signatures to qualify for the November ballot, spokeswoman Anita Mangels said.

"We're headed to the ballot," she said.

The campaign targets Assembly Bill 32, pushed four years ago by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democratic legislative leaders to require California to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

The proposed initiative would suspend AB 32 until the state's unemployment level drops to 5.5 percent for at least a year.

The signature-gathering campaign has been led, in part, by a Texas-based oil firm, Valero, and by Occidental Petroleum and the conservative Adam Smith Foundation.

Opponents of AB 32 contend its implementation could be financially devastating to the state's fragile economy.

"Voters have a right to have a say in whether the the state is going to risk a million jobs, or more, and to spend billions of dollars on programs that will not have any impact on global warming," Mangels said.

Supporters of AB 32 counter that it will benefit the state by attracting massive numbers of new clean-energy jobs. Suspension would hurt California's economy and its environment, said Steve Maviglio, spokesman for a coalition fighting the proposed ballot measure.

"With their dirty energy proposition, the oil companies want to do to California's air and economy what they're doing to the Gulf Coast," Maviglio said. "The polluters' ballot measure will be an economic and environmental disaster."

Leaders of the initiative drive have scheduled Monday press conferences in Sacramento, San Diego and Santa Clara to promote the submission of voter signatures to county registrars statewide.