Prop 23 pits the environment against job creation


Whether you're for it or against it, there has been a lot of campaigning going on about Prop 23.

Prop 23 would suspend all provisions of Assembly Bill 32, the California global warming law, until the state's unemployment rate drops to 5.5 percent or less for four consecutive calendar quarters.

The goal of AB32 is to reduce greenhouse gases by 2020, based on 1990 emissions. The law requires retrofitting diesel engines and trucks and requires new devices on gas pumps along with other emission controls.

Those in favor of Prop 23 say temporarily postponing the start of the new regulations would save the state billions in higher energy costs and protect more than a million jobs. The regulations would be reinstated once the economy improves.

"The costs that are inherent with AB32 implementation, businesses are going to have to choose between paying higher energy bills or keeping their employees," Yes on Prop 23 spokesperson Anita Mangels said. "What is likely is they may be able to stay open but they will have to cut back staff in order to find the money to pay those higher energy costs."

"It's really ironic to me that they are masquerading this as about saving jobs; I think it is the opposite," No on 23 spokesperson David Hochschild said.

Hochschild is with Solaria a solar panel manufacturing company based in Fremont. He has seen his company grow from 39 employees last year to over 150 this year. The company will open a new $65 million plant next month. Hochschild attributes much of the growth in the green tech industry to the state's strong environmental policies.

Hochschild claims Prop 23 is not a jobs initiative, but rather an attempt by Texas oil companies Tesoro Corporation and Valero Energy to repeal regulations under the global warming law. According to, a non-partisan political watchdog group, the companies have contributed over $5.6 million to the Yes on Prop 23 campaign.

"They have together made $10 billion in net operating profits in California in the last decade," Hochschild said. "They make a lot of money from the status quo; they like it that way."

"It may be politically expedient to try and demonize two of the funders of Yes on 23, but the fact is that our coalition includes organizations that include hundreds of thousands of California businesses and millions of Californian's such as the California State Firefighters Association, the California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce," Mangels said.

No on Prop 23 has support from Californian's for Clean Energy and Jobs, the Natural Resources Defense Fund and the Green Tech Action Fund.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is also against the legislation. He signed the global warming act in 2006.

With California unemployment at 12.4 percent, those opposed say the standard set by Prop 23 -- 5.5 percent unemployment for four consecutive calendar quarters -- is unrealistic in this economy.

"That is something that's happened only three times in the last 34 years, since they have been keeping records," Hochschild said.

"The threshold for 5.5 percent or less for four consecutive calendar quarters has been met 10 times in the last decade; the discrepancy comes in when some folks are looking at one stretch of periods of unemployment going on for many, many, many months and quarters," Mangels said.

The global warming law requires a reduction in carbon emissions in 2012. Other state environmental laws protecting clean air and water would not be affected by Prop 23.

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