Economic Recovery? Get Off the Fossil Sauce

05/19/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Nathan Havey Executive Director of ERIC - Environmental Research and Innovation Center

This was the week of the Green California Summit in Sacramento, where all of the newest green technologies are on display. Companies like Philips were out in full force not only to showcase their energy saving products, but to prove that the growth sector that will lead to California's (not to mention America's) economic recovery, is clean tech.

California is on the front lines of the fight being waged by big, polluting companies (which don't want to pay for the public health, and environmental damage their operations are causing) against Assembly Bill 32. This bill passed in 2006 and will reduce CO2 emissions in California by about 30 percent by the year 2020, but has, not suprprisingly, been faced with some strong opposition by Texas oil companies who are funding efforts to trup up claims that AB 32 will cost jobs in CA. The reality however, is that not only will jobs be created, but it may even be the key to getting our economy back on track. In fact, according to Ellen Bossert, Phillips expects their work force in California to increase over the next few years, and Senator Fran Pavley has expressed that "increasing production of clean renewable energy creates homegrown jobs right here in California".

Among the other attendees checking out the energy saving light bulbs and completely electric cars, was Governor Schwarzenegger himself. When asked what he thought Valero and other opponent's motivations were, Governor Schwarzenegger's answer was simple: Greed. (Skip KCRA's sloppy, false-distinction of an introduction if you like and jump to the Governor's comments at 0:45, or read his comments below)

"I think that the people are outraged about the fact that Texas oil companies, Texas oil companies are coming to California and trying to change laws and policies. In California! It is outrageous. This is why I think all of us -- environmentalists, and ordinary citizens -- we are all out here defending AB 32. This is the kind of landmark policy that rolls back our greenhouse gases and protects our environment so we're going to fight for that. And I think some people just want to come and change the laws, and we are not for that at all".

Young people, who are going to deal with the problems created by climate change, were involved in the Green California Summit as well as standing up for AB 32. Keynote speaker of the expo on March 16 was Alec Loorz who, at only fifteen years old, is the creator of Kids VS Global Warming which aims to get young people involved and engaged in helping the environment.

The Green California Summit is over, but the struggle to enact AB 32 is not. The jobs that are being created in California are in the green economy, which added jobs at three times the rate as the rest of California's economy. Venture capital investment coming to the state is supporting the same sector, with $6.5 billion invested between 2006 and 2008. If Texas Big Oil cared about jobs or the economy, they would be supporting AB 32. But if you drink the Kool-Aid companies like Valero are pumping into California, not only will it kill California's nation-leading climate legislation, but possibly the key to America's economic recovery with it.