City of Solana Beach takes stand for air pollution act
Passes resolution calling for continued implementation
California’s Global Warming Solutions Act, AB 32, aims to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
That schedule could be severely delayed due to a measure appearing on the November ballot that would require an all but unprecedented turnaround in unemployment before AB 32 could be implemented.
The California Jobs Initiative would require an unemployment level of 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters before the state could enforce several aspects of the legislation, set currently for Jan. 1, 2012. City staff reports that only three times in the last 30 years has unemployment been so low for four straight quarters.
Therefore, as a perceived leader in environmental issues, the Solana Beach City Council unanimously passed a resolution Monday symbolically supporting the continued implementation of AB 32, right on schedule.
“You maybe have heard me say this before, Solana Beach is a healthy community and we want to keep it that way,” Councilman Joe Kellejian said.
Proponents of the California Jobs Initiative argue that AB32 would cause
1 million people to lose their jobs due to the expensive implementations of the legislation’s requirements. They say AB32 would also increase the price of gas, food and electricity. “All it does is allow the economy to recover before going ahead,” said California Jobs Initiative Communications Director Anita Mangels, adding that 1990 level greenhouse gas reductions in this state alone will not have any effect on the international issue. “It’s an incredibly, incredibly expensive example (to set) with absolutely no environmental benefit in terms of global warming.”
But Steve Goetsch, president of the Solana Beach Clean and Green Committee, said California, with the world’s eighth-largest economy, is often a trendsetter.
“To say that California by itself isn’t important is clearly absurd,” he said. “Typically, California is the engine that leads the nation out of a recession, and I would like to see us do that this time.”
Both sides say their causes would be a boost to the economy. AB 32 proponents argue that the measure would create several million jobs and reduce the cost of living.
The California Jobs Initiative, which city staff reports is largely funded by out-of-state oil companies, has collected more than 800,000 signatures, roughly 360,000 more than required for ballot placement. Mangels said many of those companies have employees in California who could lose their jobs and benefits if AB 32 passes.
The state’s unemployment rate is currently around 12 percent. It was about 4.8 percent when the bill was signed in 2006.
A turnaround to 5.5 percent just for one quarter will take especially long given the current economic climate.
Professor Julian Betts, chair of the UCSD Economics Department, said unemployment is often the last thing to recover from a recession, and that he does not foresee it reaching 5.5 percent again within at least the next two years.
The city’s resolution does not bind Solana Beach for any future expenditure, and all further AB 32-related actions would still come before the council. Nonetheless, several members of the city’s Clean and Green Committee came out in support of the resolution, and loud applause circled the chamber after the council made its decision.
“While your vote is somewhat symbolic, it does carry a message to all of the people, not just in this community but throughout the state and throughout the world, that this community is going to work toward solving this problem,” committee member Lane Sharman said. “Subsequent generations will look at this council and say they made a stand by voting unanimously for this resolution.”
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