Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

Will the campaign to suspend AB32 gain heat?

AB 32 is shaping up to be a key part of the governor's race – and California politics – after The Governator leaves the building. We rarely say the number on the air. But it's the landmark law that requires the state to drop its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels within 10 years.

A movement's afoot to delay implementation of AB32 in deference to economic conditions. The California Jobs Initiative would stop it in its tracks until the state's unemployment dips-drops-ducks-dramatically to five and a half percent or so; we're over 12 percent now. A new assessment by the Legislative Analyst's office in Sacramento finds that delaying the implementation of the state's landmark global warming law would derail green tech investment – long term benefits for that industry - and provide short term benefits for some others.

The Green Chamber of Commerce – a statewide business organization - loves the LAO's assessment. “AB32 is the catalyst for billions of dollars of investment in California and the creation of thousands of jobs,” said Mike Mielke with the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, which represents more than 200 of the Silicon Valley’s most respected employers. “California has more to gain from the green economy than any other state and risks a loss of more than $80 billion in Gross State Product and more than a half million jobs by 2020 if we fail to implement this law as scheduled.”

(This seems a convenient time to explain the difference between two statewide chamber of commerce groups. One is based in Sacramento and releases studies about how much AB32 will cost small businesses. The other is based in San Francisco and releases studies about how much AB32 will help unemployed people.)

This is just the first step in an incredibly long process toward the ballot. The opponents to AB32 have a website that right now calls their proposal the California Jobs Initiative. That could change; Jerry Brown has the initiative, and he'll give it a summary and a title before the campaign starts looking for public support. AB32 opponents will have 85 days to collect enough signatures to pass muster for the random sample count to eventually get the initiative on the ballot for November 2010.

AB32 opponents criticize the costs of transitioning to clean technology and the burden it would place on the economy in the short run. On the other hand, the state's got plans to raise money from fees and carbon credit auctions for the law. So that money won't show up if the law slows down. Plenty to keep track of as the dueling economic studies start coming out.