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Big oil showdown in California: Economists agree, dont block AB 32!

Here’s another in our ongoing series on Big Oil’s attempt to repeal California’s clean energy law (for background, see “Proposition 23 puts clean energy in danger.” Today’s blogger is CAPAF’s Rebecca Lefton.

Yesterday more than 100 economists with expertise in California energy and climate issues signed an open letter warning against delaying the implementation of clean energy policies. The 118 economists support the policies created under Assembly Bill 32, or AB 32 that will “stimulate innovation and efficiency,” “help the state become a technological leader in the global marketplace,” “improve our energy security, create new business opportunities and more jobs,” and “provide immediate benefits to the health and welfare of residents by reducing local pollutants.”

AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act that was signed into law in 2006, is under threat from Proposition 23, a Big-Oil funded ballot initiative to repeal the law under the guise of a saving “jobs” (see Battle over California climate law pits polluters against clean energy economy). But as the economists point out, Big Oil’s job-killing argument couldn’t be farther from the truth.

From the letter,

The current recession and the very high unemployment rate in California present daunting challenges. Some have argued that these economic conditions warrant suspending the implementation of emission reduction policies. We disagree. Delaying action now and waiting for the future before initiating accelerated action to reduce global warming gases will be more costly than initiating action now. Acting now is more likely to limit further environmental degradation, lower the cost of mitigation, and spur innovation in renewable energy and conservation technologies.

Furthermore, policies that reduce global warming pollution are likely to provide immediate benefits to the health and welfare of residents by reducing local pollutants. For these reasons we urge continued support for policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These policies can improve our energy security, create new business opportunities and more jobs, and provide incentives for innovation.

As CAP has written here, passage of Big Oil’s proposition 23 would actually 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 employees already work part- or full-time manufacturing, construction or other green jobs. Big Oil’s proposition would risk wiping out these jobs and destroying billions of dollars of investment in clean technology and $9 billion in venture capital since 2005″”60 percent of all venture capital invested across the U.S. during that period””by effectively eliminating the same progressive clean energy policies that brought these jobs to the state in the first place as seen in the examples here.

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It’s no surprise that clean energy jobs in California are growing 10 times faster than the statewide average. As the 2009 Pew Charitable Trusts study found, California has “the largest clean energy economy of the 50 states” precisely because of the state policies providing financial incentives for clean energy development and renewable energy and energy efficiency standards among others.

Let’s read between the lines. Out-of-state oil refiners led by Texas based Tesoro and Valero are trying to axe legislation at the expense of a burgeoning clean-energy economy and of the environment to secure their own profits and keep us dependent on their dirty fuels. The economics speaks for itself.