On Monday, the UC Davis School of Law hosted a debate on Proposition 23, where experts discussed how the suspension of AB 32 could affect the economy.
Jack Stewart, president of the California Manufacturers and Technology Association, argued that the proposition will increase manufacturing in California, whereas Steve Maviglio, a spokesperson for the No on 23 campaign, argued that Prop. 23 is being pioneered by oil companies and will undermine the current efforts of the clean tech industry.
“That’s what Prop. 23 is all about – it’s in the self-interest of two oil refineries that would rather invest a few million dollars in a ballot initiative than clean up their pollution,” Magvalio said.
If enacted, Prop. 23 would suspend AB 32 until unemployment in California is lowered to 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters. Currently California’s unemployment rate is at 12.5 percent, said Richard Frank, visiting professor from UC Berkeley and moderator of the debate. By 2020, AB 32, the Global Warming Solution Act, aims to lower California’s greenhouse gas emissions back to where they were in 1990.
Stewart argued that California has lost two million jobs due to pressure on manufacturers. California has worked to replace these positions with service jobs, but this has not been a very successful tactic due to the fact that service jobs pay about $20,000 per year than manufacturing jobs.
In 2006 when AB 32 was implemented, California’s unemployment rate was 4.8 percent and has now risen to 12.4 percent. Proponents are concerned that continuing to move forward with AB 32 as scheduled will be detrimental to California’s economy.
If Prop. 23 is passed, manufacturing will be brought back to California and in turn will improve California’s economy, Stewart said.
In addition, Steward argued that AB 32 is not required to maintain high emission standards.
“The emission standard in AB 32 includes many things that don’t require AB 32 to implement them,” he said. “So, we get to 70 or 80 percent of our emission reduction goals with legislation that is not a part of AB 32.”
Magvalio pointed out that 98 percent of the Prop. 23 campaign is funded by oil companies and 89 percent is from out of state. The two main contributors are Texas-based oil companies Tesoro and Valero, both of which are top 10-polluters in California.
“I don’t think Texas oil companies care about our economy,” he said. “They care about two things: their profits and how to evade pollution standards set by the state of California.”
In the last 40 years California’s unemployment rate has only been below 5.5 percent three times and suspending AB 32 will only worsen California’s economy, Magvalio said.
Oil companies such as Valero are not creating more jobs for California, he said. Meanwhile, California has roughly 500,000 clean tech jobs and the industry is growing six times faster than any other industry in California.
“If you go to Valero’s website, they have a total of five jobs – three of which are internships if anybody is interested,” Magvalio said. “The jobs that are being created in the state are by new clean tech companies.”
JASPREET BAHIA can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.