California’s Green Jobs Mirage
In case you missed it, this piece was published in Capitol Weekly.
By Senator Bob Dutton
experiment with global warming regulations reminds me of a story about
a foolish, old dog who lost his bone in the water when he tried to grab
its reflection. Similarly, California’s leaders risk sacrificing the
jobs and industries we have today on a hope and a prayer that the
“green jobs” and “green industries” of the future will be better and
more plentiful than those we already have.
Governor Schwarzenegger signed AB 32, California’s Global Warming
Solutions Act, into law more than three years ago, he declared that the
sweeping new regulations imposed by the measure would be “good for
Since then we’ve learned these regulations carry a multibillion dollar
price tag and will be the largest tax increase ever imposed by
unelected regulators in California – call it the “global warming tax.”
The Governor also promised that California would “create a whole new
industry to pump up our economy, a clean-tech industry that creates
jobs, sparks new cutting edge technology and will be a model for the
rest of the nation and the rest of the world.”
Since those bold proclamations by the governor California has lost more
than a million jobs. The only thing that’s been “pumped up” is our
unemployment rate, which has soared from 4.8% to 12.5%, far higher than
most other states.
Despite mounting evidence that the global warming tax will hurt
California’s economy and cost jobs, the Governor continues to insist it
will create jobs.
David Crane, the Governor’s economic advisor, explained on CNN last
year, “we don't have to keep the same jobs we had before” to get real
Their plan for job growth, apparently, is to create a vast array of
government programs and subsidies that help one sector of the state’s
economy and hope they offset job losses everywhere else.
So far the results have been less than convincing.
Green jobs compose less than one percent of California’s economy.
That’s right, less than one percent. From 1995 to 2008, California
added only 42,000 new green jobs. At that rate of growth, it would
take 89 years for green jobs to replace all of the other jobs
California has lost in the current economic downturn.
Even worse, economists warn that, rather than create a surplus of jobs,
the global warming tax will kill up to 1.1 million more jobs in the
Clearly, green jobs won’t save us. We need other jobs too.
Yet California’s high costs and hostile business climate are driving
the very folks who create those jobs to other, more business-friendly
states. Since 2000, California has lost more than 600,000 good-paying
manufacturing jobs. Even green industries are choosing to expand
Business relocation specialist Joseph Vranich sees the problem
firsthand. His full-time job is advising companies who want to flee
California. He recently noted that no one is calling him to say they’d
like to move to California, adding that businesses in California face a
“coming financial tsunami from AB 32.”
Many companies that compete in the global marketplace don’t have the luxury of passing higher costs onto consumers.
Consider CalPortland Cement. As a result of AB 32, the company
cancelled its California expansion plans and is considering expanding
in Nevada instead. The company also recently laid off 100 highly paid
workers when it closed its cement operations in Colton.
Steve Regis, vice president of engineering at CalPortland says, “We're
not like other companies. We simply cannot pass our cost on to our
customers because we're truly a world market. We compete with China, so
we're really in danger."
Others see a reality that California’s leaders ignore. Arizona
recently dropped plans to participate in a cap and trade system aimed
at reducing carbon emissions. Some Utah legislators want to follow
Arizona’s lead. Even federal lawmakers are backing away from a cap and
trade proposal, citing economic concerns.
Governor Schwarzenegger should follow their lead and put the brakes on
AB 32, California’s global warming tax. He should insist that
regulators’ actions not hurt any sector of California’s economy, nor
increase the food and energy prices consumers pay.
If we work together, there’s still time to bring common sense back to
government and private sector jobs back to California. Perhaps we can
even teach an old dog new tricks.
Republican Leader-Elect Bob Dutton (R-Rancho Cucamonga) serves as the
Republican point person on jobs, budget and energy issues. Mr. Dutton
has more than thirty years of experience in the private sector and is
the founder and owner of a successful Inland Empire business. For more
information, please see www.sen.ca.gov/Dutton