4.7 Questions With Char Miller

1. What is AB 32?

AB 32 is clean-tech, clean energy legislation that California enacted in September 2006. It was and remains a landmark bill; no other state or nation has passed such a comprehensive measure to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) by incentivizing technological and entrepreneurial innovation. Moreover, it requires the California Air Resources Board to develop regulations and market mechanisms to reduce the state’s GHG emissions below 1990 levels—15 percent below by 2020; 80 percent below by 2050. This is hugely ambitious but also quite possible.

2. How and why is the bill being challenged?

Big out-of-state oil companies want to “suspend” AB 32 until the state’s economy recovers, but what they really want to do is to kill AB 32 and therefore cripple California’s growing green economy. They hope to do so by placing a proposition on the November ballot that will pull the plug on AB 32. Two Texas oil companies, Valero and Tesoro, have contributed more than $700,000 to the petition campaign; all told, 86 percent of the anti-AB 32 money has come from out-of-state sources. Why are they trying to destroy this legislation? Because they know that AB 32 is a signal that their business model is antiquated. And they are right. AB 32 is future oriented, it is progressive, and it is precisely the kind of policy that neither the U.S. Congress nor the nations meeting at Copenhagen have been able to replicate—that’s how forward-thinking AB 32 is.

3. What have the bill’s effects been in the three-and-a-half years since it was signed into law?

AB 32 has been very successful in drawing in more than $3.3 billion dollars of venture capital into California in 2008 alone. The Wall Street Journal reports that seven of the top ten clean-tech companies in the U.S. are in California and that five of the top ten cities for clean-tech investment are in the Golden State. AB 32 has created tens of thousands of jobs already and will create more, so that it is driving California’s economic recovery. “Suspending” AB 32 will do serious damage to this state’s capacity to generate new work, clean energy, and a sustainable future.

4. How do you imagine California looking 20 years from now with the bill as compared to without it?

Here’s a start: according to UC Berkeley’s center for energy, resources, and economic sustainability, the ripple effect that technological innovations, energy efficiencies, and redirected spending will have on the California economy over the next 40 years is impressive. It estimates that those changes will boost the gross state product by $76 billion and household incomes by $48 billion and create more than 400,000 additional jobs. Out of this new work will come a more efficient and robust economy based on clean energy. Green will become the new gold.

4.7. What can we as students do to prevent a fiery, climate-change induced apocalypse?

Go to the “No on the Dirty Energy Proposition” website http://www.stopdirtyenergyprop.com and sign up to help defeat this deceptive initiative. Students can also boycott Valero stations throughout California and the West. Check out this website for more details: http://act.credoaction.com/boycottvalero/

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