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Prop. 23 Backers Straddle Political Lines

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The walls of the Black Contractors’ Association Training Center in Encanto are plastered with posters for Barbara Boxer, Jerry Brown and Barack Obama. All of them have come out against Proposition 23, which would delay the state’s new greenhouse-gas regulations until the jobs picture improves.

— The walls of the Black Contractors’ Association Training Center in Encanto are plastered with posters for Barbara Boxer, Jerry Brown and Barack Obama. All of them have come out against Proposition 23, which would delay the state’s new greenhouse-gas regulations until the jobs picture improves.

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But African-American business leaders at the training center have broken ranks on this issue with the candidates they normally support. They said the city’s communities of color will suffer if the proposition fails and argued new regulations would stifle job growth and force businesses to close if they can’t afford to upgrade equipment.

California’s green-technology sector might benefit from tougher greenhouse gas emissions. Eddie Price, president of the San Diego Urban Economic Corporation, argued, however, the benefits from growth in those industries will be felt mostly in research-rich areas like University Towne Center.

“That’s the businesses in their community. In my community it’s tire shops and taco shops and beauty salons and barbershops,” Price said. “No one’s talking to both of those different types of small businesses to find out how any of this is going to affect the things that they order, the energy they buy.”

But Proposition 23’s opponents argue cutting pollution doesn’t mean prices have to go up.

“They would have you believe that if we continue to do business the old way, relying upon foreign oil, our costs won’t go up,” said Jim Waring, chairman of CleanTECH San Diego. “And, what we’re finding in these technologies – the cost of solar is a fraction of what it was even two years ago.”

Proposition 23 would delay regulations that aim to cut California’s carbon emissions to 1990 levels until the state’s unemployment rate drops below 5.5 percent for a year. California has achieved that feat just three times since the mid-1980s.

While Price and others agreed that growing the state’s green industries is important for California’s economic future, they said the transition to renewable energy will be expensive and should wait until the state is on stronger financial footing.

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