During her debate with Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) last week, GOP Senate nominee Carly Fiorina was repeatedly asked whether she supports Proposition 23, a California ballot initiative that would block implementation of AB32, the landmark California climate change law. Fiorina was non-committal at the debate, but two days later released a statement in support of Prop. 23:
Proposition 23 is a band-aid fix and an imperfect solution to addressing our nation’s climate and energy challenges…That said, AB 32 is undoubtedly a job killer, and it should be suspended.
However, according to a new study by the Center for Law, Energy, and the Environment at the University of California Berkley Law school, passing Prop. 23, and thus halting the implementation of AB32 in its tracks, would be a step that leads to direct job losses:
Passage of Proposition 23 would result in direct job losses by undermining the 33 percent Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), which depends on AB 32 authority (the “33% Ref ” scenario). A recent study by the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at UC Berkeley shows that suspending the 33 percent RPS would result in a direct loss of jobs, even if the 20 percent RPS remains in effect.
The researchers also refuted the notion that AB32 is causing unemployment in California. “No connection exists between California’s current unemployment rate and AB 32,” said professor Daniel Kammen, one of the report’s co-authors. “In fact, the clean tech sector in California is one of the few areas of sustained growth during the current recession.”
The Prop. 23 campaign is being funded by Texas-based oil giants Valero Energy Corp and Tesoro Corp., who are turning AB32 “into a scapegoat and blaming it for recent job losses caused by the recession.” Koch Industries, one of the biggest polluters in the country, has also thrown its weight behind the Prop. 23 effort. But ceding to the will of these polluters would be highly detrimental to California’s economy, as AB32 has provided myriad benefits:
California’s clean energy sector has continued robust growth despite the economic recession thanks to the Global Warming Solutions Act. Clean energy jobs have grown 10 times faster than the statewide average since 2005, to over 125,000 today. And green jobs grew by 5 percent even when the state experienced an overall job loss of 1 percent between 2007 and 2008.
Fiorina hasn’t always espoused the belief that clean energy legislation is a job killer. In fact, just two years ago she said that a cap-and-trade system “will both create jobs and lower the cost of energy.” But as she’s remade herself into a conservative senate candidate, she has tossed aside quite a few of her prior positions.