In “SB 350’s victory is incomplete, but hope remains” (Viewpoints, Sept. 18), Tom Steyer uses a familiar political trick – demonize the opposition to avoid a serious discussion about energy, economic and environmental policy.
His finger-pointing fails to address important facts about California’s climate program. First, California businesses, including oil companies, electric and gas utilities, as well as just about every other industry in the state, are doing more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions than businesses in any other state. California has the most robust climate program in the world, with more than 65 programs that are already being implemented.
Second, California energy bills are higher than any other state’s. Energy prices always fluctuate; that is how the market works. But, the important statistic to understand is the differential between California energy costs and the rest of the nation.
For example, the Center for Jobs and the Economy found that gasoline prices in California are 90 cents per gallon above the national average. And a factory pays an average of 10.91 cents per kilowatt-hour for electricity in California, compared to the national average of 6.75 cents. When grocery stores, restaurants, trucking companies and hospitals have to pay higher energy costs, they must cut costs or reduce jobs, or they can pass costs on to their customers. Either way is a loser for Californians.
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Steyer and other proponents of new energy regulations also do not want to discuss the loss of middle-income jobs in California. Our workforce is seeing a decade-long decline in higher-income manufacturing jobs, which are being replaced by lower-income service industry jobs.
We certainly welcome new green jobs, but these are only 2 percent of the state’s workforce. With more tax and regulation, many of the “non-green” companies that employ 98 percent of California workers will cut back or leave our state altogether. This could actually increase global emissions as the companies move to states with much less stringent environmental requirements. That is another loser for all Californians.
The solution to greenhouse gas emissions reduction is not demonizing the 98 percent of our economy that provides more than 15 million jobs. The solution is developing balanced policies that reduce emissions while keeping costs affordable. That’s a winner for Californians and a winning model for the rest of the world to adopt.
Rob Lapsley is the president of the California Business Roundtable.