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Opinion: Job-killing, dirty-energy proposition would hurt California’s economy

Why is Assemblyman Dan Logue more interested in the profits of big Texas oil companies than in the economic well being of his constituents? Why is he watching out for their bottom line instead of those of California businesses?

These questions beg for an answer because Logue and the Republican Caucus are trying to repeal AB 32, our state’s roadmap to a clean-energy future. Their partisan actions are already creating economic uncertainty for thousands of businesses and chill billions of dollars of investment in solar, wind, and other clean-tech projects in our state just as our economy is starting to pull out of the recession.

According to a recent study by Collaborative Economics, California has a foundation of 3,000 clean tech businesses, accounting for more than 44,000 jobs. Between 1995 and 2008, California’s “clean tech” business sector increased 45 percent in number and 36 percent in employment — one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal economy. As noted economist Stephen Levy of the Center for the Continuing Study of the California Economy recently wrote: “it is likely that the first beneficiaries of green job growth will be workers who are currently unemployed.”

This growth is just the beginning. A University of California analysis projected that AB 32 will spur the creation of another 112,000 jobs and increase our state’s gross product by $20 billion. That’s not chicken feed.

So then why is Logue playing chicken with our future? Why would he ignore one of the great success stories immediately adjacent to his own district? Sierra Brewing recently completed construction on one of the largest private solar arrays in the United States, supporting hundreds of jobs and reducing carbon emissions by several thousand tons per year. This solar project produces over 1.4 MW of AC power for the brewery. This—coupled with its existing 1.2 MW fuel cell plant—provides the majority of the brewery’s electrical energy needs with clean power produced on-site.

Sierra Brewing is just one of the shining examples of how we can have both a strong economy and a clean environment. That California is on the cutting edge of environmental policy is even clear to the Wall Street Journal: it notes that 7 of the top 10 American clean tech companies are California-based, and 5 of the top 10 cities in the U.S. for clean-tech investment are in the Golden State.

The future is even more promising. Our state’s $3.3 billion in 2008 clean-tech venture-capital funding accounted for a whopping 57 percent of the nation’s total. With the National Venture Capital Association calculating that each $100 million in venture capital funding creates 2,700 jobs, employment in this sector will continue to soar for decades.

These companies, along with most of California’s largest and most innovative employers–such as Google, eBay, Virgin America, and Waste Management–oppose the effort by Assemblyman Logue and Texas oil giants Valero and Tesoro to suspend AB 32. So do growing numbers of clean tech and small businesses around the state. They realize that AB 32 is a job-creator, and that California’s pioneering effort to reduce our dependence on oil from the Middle East and to clean our air is a key component in our economic recovery.

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