Businesses that benefit from greenhouse gas curbs are meeting with environmentalists to mobilize against the initiative. Many are connected to Silicon Valley's deep pockets.
Suspending AB 32 "would be the real job-killer," said Susan Frank of the California Business Alliance for a Green Economy. "The mere passage of AB 32 has generated green job growth even as the rest of the economy has contracted." A December study by Next 10, a San Francisco-based think tank, found that jobs in California green businesses grew 36% from 1995 to 2008, while total employment expanded only 13%.
A report on the proposed rollback of AB 32 by the state's nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office last month said that the measure could lead to greater short-term profits for some businesses, but would dampen investments in clean technology and green jobs.
The report said the initiative would invalidate a Schwarzenegger executive order requiring that a third of all retail electricity sellers get their power from renewable sources by 2020. And it would suspend the regulation to slash carbon intensity of fuels by 10%.
However, half of the state's measures to bring greenhouse gases down to 1990 levels by 2010 would survive, the analyst report concluded, notably the rules to cut tailpipe emissions, because they were enacted under different statutes.
A crowded ballot in November could work against the measure, but Costa, who was active in the successful effort to recall former Gov. Gray Davis, says his group's Internet outreach will spawn "a new coalition."
"Look at what happened in Massachusetts," he said, referring to the "tea party"-supported election of Sen. Scott Brown. "I see that happening with AB 32. Blue-collar voters think the government has gone too far. We're told we're somehow warming the planet. But they don't see the evidence."