Just a few years after passing AB 32, our state's challenge to reach a clean energy future, a handful of reactionaries in Sacramento (including Sen. Jeff Denham) are trying to repeal it, a move that will create economic uncertainty for thousands of businesses and stymie billions of dollars of investment in solar, wind, and other clean tech projects in the Central Valley.
Why reactionaries? Because a real conservative supports legislation that conserves energy, protects environment, and invests in the future.
According to a recent study by Collaborative Economics, California’s foundation of 3,000 clean tech businesses, accounts for more than 44,000 jobs. Between 1995 and 2008, California’s "green" business sector increased 45 percent in number and 36 percent in employment. Economist Stephen Levy of the Center for the Continuing Study of the California Economy recently wrote that "the first beneficiaries of green job growth will be workers who are currently unemployed.”
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. Already benefiting from such job-creating investments, Turlock Irrigation District recently announced a partnership with Sunnyvale-based EnerVault on a groundbreaking solar energy system in the community that will, if approved by the California Energy Commission, allow producers to store non-peak energy for use during peak hours.
EnerVault is one of many companies in our state that are prospering because California is on the cutting edge of environmental policy. According to the Wall Street Journal, seven of the top 10 American clean tech companies are California based, and five of the top 10 cities in the U.S. for clean tech investment are in California.
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.
We are helping Tracy, through the "Emerald Tracy" Sustainable Action Plan, to reduce its dependency on fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions, while building economic resilience by attracting green employers and employees. Progressive companies, including California's largest and most innovative employers — Google, eBay, Virgin America, and Waste Management— oppose the effort by Senator Denham and Texas oil companies to suspend AB 32, as do growing numbers of clean tech and small businesses around the state. AB 32, California's pioneering effort to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and clean our air, will help drive a sustainable economic recovery.
— Stephen Coyle is an architect, urban designer, and public facilitator in a wide range of public and private projects around the nation. Coyle is a founding partner of LCA Town Planning & Architecture, and is a Principal of Town-Green, a sustainable architecture firm. His specialty is managing and planning new and redeveloping transit-oriented public and private developments.