by JB Tengco, Blue Green Alliance
Passed in 2006, AB 32, California’s landmark clean energy and climate law, is spurring investments in the clean energy economy and transforming our energy sector in ways that benefit Californians on many levels. It is driving job growth, reducing the carbon emissions causing our climate to change, and improving air quality in regions throughout our state.
Unfortunately, AB 32 is under attack…again. Today, many of the same groups that tried in 2010 to destroy our progress on clean energy jobs and climate change through Proposition 23 are back. They’ve hired the same PR firms and teamed with several anti-labor groups to delay AB 32 and get around important parts of the law. Delaying the implementation of AB 32 will harm both the environment and working families. Like we have done three times before, we must stop these attacks.
AB 32 is creating jobs. With the passage of our state budget, California begins the next phase of the AB 32 by allocating cap-and-trade proceeds. Through cap and trade, California will invest $872 million this fiscal year to create quality jobs, help working families, and reduce our carbon emissions and other pollutants. Some of the cap and trade investments include:
- Better public transit and more frequent bus service, providing more ways for Californians to get to jobs and other destinations
- More affordable housing, which means construction jobs across the state as well as more affordable living opportunities for working families
- Inter-city and high-speed rail that will create demand for a well-trained, high-skill workforce across the state, beginning in the central valley where unemployment remains high
- Water-energy efficiency projects to improve our water delivery system
- Increased recycling and composting facilities that create more jobs and reduce pollution.
Transit operations, affordable housing and high speed rail will continue to be funded by AB 32 cap and trade proceeds in future years, not just in 2014-15.
Additionally, the proceeds for those programs could grow–but only if we’re successful in defeating efforts to weaken and delay AB 32 implementation. New proceeds sources from the oil industry will be included in the cap and trade program similar to other industries like electricity, adding billions of dollars to fund new and existing programs.
The benefits of AB 32 and other clean energy programs go beyond job creation. AB 32 will make communities healthier as well as help working families and advantaged communities. These funds will create more affordable housing and provide additional modes of transportation for working families who do not always have access to a reliable car. Investments in energy efficiency improvements in our schools will reduce utility bills, which can then be used to fund programs and staff while improving the indoor air quality for our teachers and students. And new housing developments with an integrated approach to smart housing, better streets, and work can improve our health. All of these programs will help tackle pollution and asthma in children, especially among those least able to afford health care.
As California progresses to the next phase of AB 32, labor should help ensure its success and resist efforts to weaken or delay the growth of California’s clean energy economy. AB 32 is proving that good policies can create goods jobs while fighting pollution. Help us ensure California continues to improve our economy and the environment and help stop the attacks on AB 32.
The BlueGreen Alliance is a national partnership of 11 labor unions and 5 environmental organizations dedicated to expanding the number and quality of jobs in the clean economy. This article originally appeared on Labor’s Edge.