Know your ballot: Vote no on Proposition 23

Mandi Gosling

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During my internship at a television network, we were told that in an effort to be more environmentally responsible, the company was no longer going to stock paper coffee cups.  In other words, hang on to your mug because come tomorrow morning, you’re going to need it.

Well, I didn’t bring a mug and  I still haven’t brought one in (it’s like remembering to bring my reusable bags to the grocery store – never happens) and I regret it every time I walk to the coffee maker and realize (again!) there aren’t any paper coffee cups.  I walk away frustrated and completely inconvenienced by this new rule.

My anger lasts only moments being quickly replaced by relief that there are people in this world who are enviro-sponsible, forcing me to do the right thing, or at least not the wrong thing, so my future children have a planet to inherit.

And in the spirit of coerced enviro-sponsibility, we must vote no on Proposition 23 this November.

Proposition 23 is a ballot measure that would suspend the Global Warming Solutions Act or Assembly Bill 32, a sweeping environmental law passed by California lawmakers in 2006, until the state unemployment rate is 5.5 percent or less for one year.

Proponents of the measure argue the financial costs are too high for businesses that must implement changes to comply with AB 32, thus stunting job growth and the economic well being of Californians.

AB 32 mandates the state’s greenhouse gas emissions be reduced to their 1990 levels by 2020 and, to achieve this goal, many industries have to spend millions of dollars retrofitting or replacing machines and vehicles in order to lower their carbon emissions.

Also, as of 2012, a cap-and-trade program will begin and companies will be given a certain number of permits capping their allowable emissions.  If they want to go over their allotment, they will have to purchase more permits from businesses that have not exhausted their supply.

To be sure, AB 32 will cost industries with high carbon emissions. It is financially inconvenient and it may make it harder for them to expand their businesses and hire new employees.

However, this pioneering legislation has put California at the forefront of a rapidly growing, highly lucrative and socially responsible new industry – clean technology, or what I’d like to call “the future.”

In an annual report called the 2009 Green Innovation Index, the non-partisan organization Next 10 found nearly $7 billion in venture capital was invested in California clean technology companies from 2005 to 2009.  In 2008, California attracted $3.3 billion in clean technology venture capital – more than all the other states combined.

The report also stated that in the past five years, jobs in the clean technology sector have increased by five percent while the total number of jobs in California has only increased one percent.

So, what’s all the talk about AB 32 being bad for business?  Well, it all depends on what business you’re in.

For example, it is bad for oil giants like Valero Energy Corp. and Tesoro Oil Corp. who have contributed 75 percent of the money funding the Yes on Proposition 23 campaign. They want you to think that social responsibility and economic prosperity are mutually exclusive.

Voting no on Proposition 23 will make them wish they had put that $4.5 million in campaign financing towards the clean technology they need to get them off the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s top 10 polluters list.

In fact, voting no on Proposition 23 sends them a message that their smoggy money would have been better spent just about anywhere else.