Over the last decade since California passed Assembly Bill 32, the state’s landmark climate change law, there have been a stream of naysayers claiming that implementing AB 32 and successor policies would damage the state’s economy, cause businesses to flee and raise energy costs.
Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin and Orange County Business Council CEO Lucy Dunn are just the latest (“Be careful on climate bill,” Viewpoints, July 9).
None of the negative predictions have materialized; California cities, businesses and communities have flourished. AB 32 has exceeded expectations and has helped – not hurt – families’ pocketbooks and the state’s overall economy.
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Energy standards for appliances, home weatherization and residential solar panel installation initiatives have saved consumers billions in lower utility costs in the last decade. California households are expected to save an average of $800 a year by 2020 – growing to more than $2,000 annually by 2030 – in their transportation fuel bills, thanks to a combination of state policies for more efficient cars and diverse fuel choices, and more walkable communities with transit.
And as air quality continues to improve thanks to AB 32, families are missing fewer days at work and at school, further improving the state’s economy. The economic effect is especially significant in areas such as Fresno and the Central Valley, where medical bills and lost productivity as a result of illnesses caused by pollution lead it to lose $3 billion a year in economic activity.
While opponents have predicted huge job and manufacturing losses, we have the largest clean energy sector of all 50 states, we lead the nation in manufacturing, and we surpassed Texas in job growth in 2014. Now is no time to delay in fully implementing AB 32 or allowing SB 350 and SB 32 to become law. California has proved once and for all that the economy or the environment is a false choice.
Kevin Johnson is mayor of Sacramento. Steve Frisch is president of the Sierra Business Council.