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Panel Debates Business Cost Of Calif. Global Warming Law

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Aired 4/30/10

Panelists debated the economic merits of California's greenhouse gas emissions reduction law at a forum Friday in San Diego.

— Panelists debated the economic merits of California's greenhouse gas emissions reduction law at a forum Friday in San Diego.

California's Global Warming Solutions Act, or AB 32, is designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

The law mandates a variety of measures ranging from capping industrial pollution to requiring use of more renewable energy.

But some groups question whether now is the time to roll out regulations that will increase costs when the economy is struggling.

Dorothy Rothrock is co-chair of the AB 32 Implementation Group. The group's mission is to make sure the greenhouse gas emission reductions are achieved without hurting the competitiveness of California businesses.

She also represents the California Manufacturers and Technology Association.

Rothrock said creating new green jobs is good but not if more manufacturing jobs are lost as a result.

"We're concerned right now that maybe the balance has shifted too much to spending too much for too few jobs and putting too much of our really strong industrial base at risk," said Rothrock.

Holly Lepre with CleanTECH San Diego said efforts to delay the law will hurt local start-up companies.

"And to really pull the rug up underneath all of these folks I think is going to be quite stunning," said Lepre.

Lepre said the possibility the state's global warming law could be derailed makes a lot of clean technology businesses and investors nervous.

The California Jobs Initiative Campaign is circulating a petition to qualify a measure for the November 2010 California ballot that could delay the implementation of AB 32. The initiative calls for the law to be put on hold until the state's unemployment rate is 5.5 percent or less for four consecutive quarters.

The rate is currently more than 12 percent.

Opponents of the initiative said the four-quarter requirement has been met only three times in the last 30 years.

"If AB 32 (initiative) gets on the ballot, I have no doubt it will pass and set aside the law," said San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts, also a member of the California Air Resources Board.

Roberts said during the Friday forum what's needed is a national policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"If California goes it alone without a national policy (to reduce greenhouse gas emissions) it puts state businesses at a disadvantage," said Bryan Bloom, president of Priority Moving, Inc. of San Diego. "AB 32 is the wrong bill at the wrong time."

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