Megan Birney
Courtesy Photo

On August 3, 2010, the County of Santa Barbara took a leadership position when the Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution to oppose Proposition 23, the California Jobs Initiative, which would effectively kill California’s existing Global Warming Solutions Act. By a vote of three to one (with one abstaining) the supes agreed to move forward with a new, clean, green economy.

Backed chiefly by two Texas oil companies, Valero Energy Corporation and Tesoro, Prop. 23 would suspend that law, AB 32, until California’s unemployment rate falls to 5.5 percent or less for four consecutive quarters. The state unemployment rate in May was 12.4 percent.

Since it was passed in 2006, AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act, has sent a powerful message to the rest of the nation that we take climate change seriously. It has also become an important tool for communities like ours who want move away from their dependence on fossil fuels, for whatever reason. But if Proposition 23 passes, businesses and governments would no longer have to track how much greenhouse gas they are responsible for emitting—an essential first step to curbing those emissions. Utilities would no longer have to meet the state goal of obtaining 30 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020. And Prop. 23 would put an end to a regional cap-and-trade program that would target major polluters such as power plants and oil refineries.

Critics claim these requirements will increase energy costs for consumers. In fact, they create major savings by helping Californians escape the treadmill of rising energy costs associated with reliance on limited supplies of fossil fuels. The Global Warming Solutions Act encourages businesses to increase efficiency (which decreases costs in the long term) and to switch to renewable energy sources, which can stabilize costs. It spurs positive change by rewarding cutting-edge innovation and early adoption of new technologies.

California’s law also gives certainty to the clean tech sector blooming in our state—an industry that almost everyone wants to see thrive. This sector is developing new products, technologies, and services to help governments, existing businesses, and individuals cut their carbon footprints. These green, clean tech jobs are real jobs. In fact, studies have shown that renewable energy generates more jobs per unit of energy than jobs in the fossil fuel industry. The proponents of Prop. 23 would have you think that these clean tech jobs aren’t worth as much as traditional jobs on oil rigs and coal-fired power plants. Ask someone who install solar panels in the Central Valley, or develops wind projects from Carpinteria, if they think that’s true.

Board of Supervisors Chair Janet Wolf recognized those benefits in her public comments at the meeting. “I think it is an opportunity to start enhancing and encouraging new industry,” she said. “This is the time for us to move forward and not backward.”

In addition, the board recognized that the Global Warming Solutions Act is not just about the economy, but also about public health. Supervisor Salud Carbajal acknowledged that some businesses might have higher short-term costs, but asserted that, “When we look at the costs associated with public health, we can’t afford to wait any longer.”

Supervisor Carbajal is right, we can’t wait any longer. Our climate is warming, oil is fouling our rivers and oceans, and there is a better way forward.

Economy, jobs, health, the future of our earth and our species: all reasons to be proud of California’s leadership in passing the Global Warming Solutions Act four years ago.

Take a stand. Follow in the footsteps of the Santa Barbara Board of Supervisors. In November, vote no on Proposition 23, the Dirty Energy Proposition.


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