Clean technology industry advocates packed the “Googleplex” Tuesday morning to voice their opposition to a California ballot proposition that would suspend a law to curb greenhouse gas emissions, reports the San Jose Mercury News. If voters roll back California’s landmark climate change bill in November, the state’s burgeoning green economy and the jobs it has created may be lost, clean technology leaders warned.
Proposition 23, if approved would block a previously passed law–AB32–from regulating emissions in California until unemployment levels drop below 5.5 percent for a full year. AB32 requires California emission levels match the levels specified by the Kyoto Protocol–1990 levels by 2020, and it’s set to take effect in 2012.
The measure is largely funded by Texas oil giants Valero and Tesoro and would, opponents of the measure say, essentially kill AB 32, the climate change bill passed in 2008 to dramatically reduce the state’s carbon emissions.
Supporters of Proposition 23, which also include the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and the California Manufacturers and Technology Association, warn that the implementation of AB 32 will create financial hardships for smaller businesses that have been struggling through the recession because it will result in higher energy costs.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom lambasted the oil companies at a press conference announcing the release of a new report detailing numerous environmental violations by Valero and Tesoro, noting that the companies own four facilities on the list of the top 15 worst polluters in California, reports SFStreetsBlog.com.
“The idea that their spokesperson would say we want to help the California economy by rolling back AB 32 is laughable. Do you think private corporations out of Texas in the oil business actually want to spend tens of millions of dollars to help the California economy? That’s nonsense. This is purely about their bottom line. They are impacting the one thing that’s working in California and that’s our green jobs sector,” Mayor Newsome told SFStreetsBlog.com.
Venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, Google “Green Energy Czar” Bill Weihl, California Air Resources Board chair Mary Nichols and PG&E Senior Vice President Tom Bottorff held a wide-ranging panel discussion about California’s leadership in clean technology and the importance of regulatory certainty.
“AB 32 created markets,” Khosla told CNet News. “Prop. 23 will kill the market and the single largest source of job growth in California in the last two years.”
Khosla said that for progress to be made in developing new clean sources of energy, markets are going to have to be established so businesses have an incentive to develop cleaner energy sources. He argued AB32 did just that in requiring businesses to cut emissions, and if there’s no market for clean technologies, no progress will be made.
Weihl said that Google, which has data centers that use huge amounts of electricity, is eager to both reduce its electricity use and move toward cleaner energy.
“Rolling (AB32) back would get rid of the certainty that investors rely on,” Weihl said, suggesting that private funding for clean-energy technology would either dry up or move overseas if there was no market for such technologies in California. “Having markets that are predictable is much better than subsidies.”