Climate change law won't hurt economy, study says

A new report says climate legislation aimed at reducing the state's greenhouse gas emissions won't hurt California's economy.

The findings by the California Air Resources Board and vetted by an independent panel of economists and business experts contradict a study by analyst Thomas Tanton and commissioned by the AB 32 Implementation Group. The Tanton study claimed that AB 32, which seeks to reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, would create "annual job losses to the California Economy of 76,000 to 107,000 the first year growing to perhaps 485,000 jobs in 2020."

Air Resources Board staffers plan to present the findings of the new study to the board today.

“This analysis confirms what economists have been saying all along: that full implementation of the Scoping Plan is the right choice for California to make an affordable transition to a clean energy economy,” said ARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols in a statement. “It supports continued economic growth and sets us on a course for greater energy security and less dependence on petroleum.”

The study found that when the AB 32 scoping plan measures are in place, "increased
investment in efficient buildings and technologies and in advanced fuels pays off: The economic growth rate remains 2.4 percent per year but fuel expenditures are reduced 4.9 percent and GHG emissions reduced by 15 percent."

The battle over AB 32 is expected to continue despite the 118-page study's findings. The Los Angeles Times reported that in recent weeks, "the protracted dispute over the 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act has flared anew as oil refiners and other industries have poured more than $950,000 into signature-gathering for a November ballot initiative to delay climate-related rules."

Photo: Skyline of LA smog by Charis Tsevis.