From San Diego Union-Tribune
State cannot afford to go it alone on global warmingBy Bryan Bloom
Sunday, August 1, 2010 at midnight
TRENDSETTER or JOB KILLER?
When AB 32 was passed in 2006, California’s unemployment rate was 4.8 percent. It now exceeds 12 percent, the worst since the Depression. AB 32 is not a national or international strategy but a California go-it-alone law putting our state’s struggling businesses and economy at further disadvantage and risk of failure.
California already suffers from the highest sales tax rate in the country, the second-highest income tax rates, the highest gasoline tax and is rated one of the worst states in which to do business.
A California State University study estimates an average family cost of about $3,900 per year, a small business cost of about $50,000 per year and a total loss of output in the range of $180 billion in order to comply.
The California Air Resources Board produced its own rosy prediction of AB 32 that was widely criticized by a panel of peer reviewers, world renowned economists and other experts as incomplete and overly optimistic.
Some of the main areas (and implementation costs) where AB 32 encumbers the lives of individuals and small business are a $143 billon proposed cap-and-trade tax that will be passed along to consumers in the form of higher utility rates; a low carbon fuel standard that will increase gasoline and diesel prices by almost $4 billion a year; a renewable electricity rule that could cost some ratepayers up to 60 percent more; a “feebate” that is in essence a new-car tax that will increase the cost of most new cars and trucks; and millions of dollars in administration fees.
But what about all the new “green jobs?” MiaSole, a company based in Silicon Valley, produces solar panels for the California market and recently announced plans to hire 1,000 people for its new 500,000 sq. ft. manufacturing plant – not in California, but in Georgia. This scenario is being played out all over the country and the world as other states and nations surpass California in the production of renewable energy like wind power and biofuels without the budget-busting costs of AB 32.
CARB’s trust is at an all-time low among the public, industry, legislators and even CARB’s own board. Recently, fraud, dishonesty and a cover-up occurred when a CARB scientist lied about having a Ph.D. when he authored a vital study used by the CARB board to vote on another set of regulations. This resulted in CARB board member Dr. John Telles’ testimony: “Failure to reveal this information to the board prior to the vote not only casts doubt ... but also upon the legitimacy of CARB itself.”
In fact, other states and other nations have scaled back their global warming policies in order to protect their economies from higher energy and other costs that they simply can’t afford.
Importantly, underlying the economic debate is one undeniable fact: California produces only a tiny fraction of the world’s greenhouse gases. Without the rest of the world following AB 32-like rules, California could reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to zero and still have no impact on global warming. CARB has publicly acknowledged in its AB 32 Scoping Plan: “California acting alone cannot reduce emissions sufficiently to change the course of climate change worldwide.”
So with unemployment at over 12 percent and the state struggling with yet another $20 billion budget deficit, AB 32 will impose costs that will cripple the economy, jobs, education and the social services that rely on the tax base for support, while doing absolutely nothing to reduce global warming. Businesses will continue to relocate to other states that promote lower taxes, more business-friendly policies and more reasonable environmental regulations.
That’s why so many voters and small businesses are supporting Proposition 23, which would temporarily suspend costly AB 32 regulations until California’s unemployment rate reaches 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters, a threshold reached numerous times in recent years, according to the state’s Employment Development Department.
The goals of AB 32 are admirable, but now is not the time for a global warming law that will cost billions and do nothing to reduce global warming. Concerned citizens have a chance to make a difference by voting YES on Proposition 23.
Bloom is president of Priority Moving, Inc. in San Diego and holds an undergraduate degree in economics and a minor in chemistry from the University of California San Diego, and an MBA from the University of California Berkeley.