Green sector fights to keep pollution law 

A green technology industry that’s growing quickly in the Bay Area is leading a fight against a November ballot initiative that threatens to cost scores of its workers their jobs.

The California Jobs Initiative, which is heavily backed by oil companies, would suspend the Global Warming Solutions Act until joblessness reaches historic lows.

California’s anti-global warming law, Assembly Bill 32, will limit air pollution through emissions-related regulations.

The 4-year-old law has driven investment in the state’s green technology sector, which develops renewable energy and other solutions to environmental problems like climate change.

Republican Meg Whitman has pledged to suspend the law if elected governor, saying it will increase energy costs and threatens jobs during a down economy.

Mayor Gavin Newsom, however, said the law supports members of an emerging industry that his administration has worked hard to attract to The City.

“The one area of our economy that’s disproportionately outperforming is in the green tech sector,” Newsom said Wednesday. “That’s what this initiative will stop in its tracks.”

The diverse industry, also called clean tech, depends heavily on environmental regulations such as AB 32 to spur demand for its products and services.

Out of $5.6 billion invested in the sector last year by venture capitalists funding projects in North America, Europe, China and India, $2.1 billion flowed into California, Cleantech Group research shows.

The Bay Area Council, a coalition of businesses, supports AB 32, crediting the law with the sector’s local growth.

California is home to 475,000 green workers, 130,000 of which work in the Bay Area, the California Employment Development Department calculated this year.

Their main employers, green tech companies, are forming the backbone of organized opposition to the California Jobs Initiative, according to Steven Maviglio, spokesman for a campaign opposing the initiative.

“If it passes, it’ll pull the rug out from under more than the 12,000 clean tech businesses,” Maviglio said. “Financially, they will be our most ardent supporters.”

Anita Mangels, spokeswoman for the initiative’s campaign, said green tech was growing before
AB 32 became law and the sector isn’t threatened by the measure.

jupton@sfexaminer.com

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