Prop. 23 fight spawns ongoing green-jobs group

What began as an effort to protect the state’s landmark climate-change law against a ballot-driven rollback has become a permanent, bipartisan coalition dedicated to creating jobs in renewable energy and fighting climate change, organizers said Friday.

Former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz and Farallon Capital Management senior partner Tom Steyer of San Francisco announced they’ll continue co-chairing “Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs.” The group – the outgrowth of the campaign against last November’s Proposition 23 – will support state, regional, and local clean energy policies, support implementation of the state’s climate-change law (AB 32), and promote renewable energy jobs, projects, and businesses.

“We are trying to continue to push on the very points that we made in the ‘No on Prop. 23’ campaign – I think we felt then that we managed to put together a bipartisan coalition that was statewide … and which managed to make clean energy not just something that the overwhelming majority of Californians favored, but something that was important to them,” Steyer told reporters on a conference call this morning. “What George and I are trying to continue to do is to make sure that impulse in the state of California continues to be followed.”

“I hate to say we’re getting the band back together, but: We’re getting the band back together.”

Shultz pursuing clean energy makes fiscal and national-security sense.

“Right now oil prices are soaring again. It’s like a gigantic tax increase. Do we need a huge tax increase at this stage of our economic life? No,” Shultz said. “How many times do you have to get hit on the head with a 2-by-4 before you realize somebody’s hitting you?”

Shultz said implementing AB 32 without hurting the economy means “putting a price on carbon … in a way that’s gradual” while encouraging innovation in other energy sources and conservation.

He also said that although other already-existing groups have similar agendas, this coalition “brings something else to the party” – a proven track record. Only 38.4 percent of Californians voted for Prop. 23, an oil-industry-funded measure which would’ve suspended AB 32’s implementation until the state’s unemployment rate drops to 5.5. percent or lower for four consecutive quarters. The 5,974,564 votes against the measure was the largest vote total in any candidate race or ballot measure in the nation last November.

“We’re not philosophers, we’re doers,” Shultz said.

Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs will produce a daily newsletter and website highlighting clean tech projects, defend and promote clean energy policies and legislation that protect clean air and promote job growth, and conduct other activities to continue momentum in the fastest-growing segment of the state’s economy.

The group says its immediate goals will be:

  • implementing AB 32 so that California is the global leader in clean energy jobs and air quality while protecting consumers and taxpayers;
  • expanding renewable energy investments in California to meet Gov. Jerry Brown’s goal of generating 20,000 megawatts of renewable electricity, including 12,000 megawatts of locally generated electricity, by 2020;
  • increasing investments in energy efficiency, and
  • continuing California’s commitment to clean energy research and development, and providing incentives for its growing clean tech economy.
  • Coalition partners include the Silicon Valley Leadership Group; Ella Baker Center for Human Rights; Natural Resources Defense Council; the Environmental Defense Fund; Los Angeles Business Council; California League of Conservation Voters; California Business Alliance for a Green Economy; the American Lung Association in California; the BlueGreen Alliance; and Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2).

    The group’s news release quoted Brown as saying “clean energy creates jobs and investment, and that’s exactly what we need to help turn our economy around. Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs will be a strong voice to ensure that California leads the nation in sustainable energy technology.”

    And State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said the group “will play a critical role in helping promote policies that will create jobs, attract businesses and venture capital to our state, and expand the clean energy economy in California.”

    More than half a million Californians hold “green jobs,” according to the state Employment Development Department. And the National Venture Capital Association says California in 2010 attracted nearly $10 billion in venture capital for the clean tech industry, more than six times that of any other state.

    Josh Richman

    Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

    • Charlie Peters

      Audit the federal reserve, support HR 459 Paul

    • Charlie Peters

      Corn fuel ethanol is corporate welfare for Big oil and Government Motors that increases cars.

      Get food out of my gas.

    • Tom Tanton

      Before we accept this rent seeking behavior, we might want to ask why or how California will be any different than other “green energy leaders” who have found out in actual experience the heavy job losses that go along with the few green jobs created. Spain, Italy, Germany, Great Britain, Denmark have all experienced NET job loss. This scheme is the epitome of corporate welfare, as the technologies are simply not cost effective (nor ’emerging infant industries’)and they reduce California’s productivity. With >2 1/2 million jobs lost over past 3 years(currently unemployed) just how promising is 500,000 green jobs created (and redefined) over a decade?

    • John W

      Re #3 “This scheme is the epitome of corporate welfare, as the technologies are simply not cost effective.”

      I won’t argue the corporate welfare comment or even the point that our “green energy” expectations may be unrealistic. However, I would note that other energy sources — oil and nuclear — also benefit from corporate welfare. Safety issues aside, the current economics of nuclear suck. Nuclear cannot happen without government assistance. In the case of oil, I wonder how the economics would look if we taxed the industry for the cost of our various military engagements in the Middle East.

    • Tom Tanton

      John W–fair enough, but note that solar and wind get 30 times the subsidy of other technologies (per unit of production) at least according to official government sources (E.I.A.) and have been doing so for decades (i.e. the infant industry excuse is threadbare.) We likely could ‘assign’ some of the military costs to oil, but that would require assigning a value to liberty and freedom, the joint products of our military intervention. If we assign a value to others’ liberty and freedom, what’s to stop them from assigning a (very low) value to ours? That’s precisely the problem…they already have.

    • Lucas

      We applaud Tom Steyer and George Schultz for co-chairing and relaunching Californian’s for Clean Energy and Jobs!

      Check out more info at the Ella Baker Center website. Green jobs: one solution to both pollution and poverty.

      The Ella Baker Center.
      She led. So can you.

      Read more: Tom Steyer, George Shultz reunite for clean energy jobs | San Francisco Business Times