The November 2 election is less than a week away. At the polls, voters will determine the fate of California's leadership role in developing a clean energy economy. Proposition 23, an initiative on the ballot, aims to suspend landmark environmental laws in California. If Prop 23 is approved by voters, the implementation of the California Global Warming Solutions Act (Assembly Bill 32 or AB 32) will be suspended until the state unemployment rate drops to 5.5% or below for four consecutive quarters.
Currently California's unemployment rate is 12.4%. Jobs are being lost every day. Businesses are closing. Yet the one sector that is driving employment and growth in California is clean energy. The clean technology industry employs over a half-million Californians, and these jobs are growing at a rate more rapid than the statewide average. Since the implementation of AB 32, California has garnered over $9 billion of private investment capital and is the center for clean technology innovation. With the passage of Prop 23, California would lose its market leadership and thousands of clean technology jobs.
Prop 23 would destabilize the investment market and prompt companies to reduce investment or relocate to other states and nations with strong environmental policies and incentives. In the race to lead the clean technology revolution, Prop 23 will stunt the growth of California's green economy.
AB 32 was enacted in 2006 with the support of businesses, labor, environmental and health organizations. AB 32 requires California's greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced to the levels of 1990 by the year 2020. To meet these goals, AB 32 provides the authority for implementing California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) and Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), both of which create immediate demand for large-scale, low-carbon and renewable transportation fuel and electric power. AB 32 also authorizes California to create a market for greenhouse gas reduction credits. As part of this program, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) would develop protocols for certifying the low-carbon and other pollution-reduction attributes of clean energy technologies. Once these protocols are in place, California's clean technology companies will have a powerful mechanism to sell their clean energy technology and products in the broader U.S. and global marketplaces.
Together, the RPS, LCFS and AB32, programs create the essential elements for California's clean technology companies to invest billions of dollars in new equipment and technology, which will provide new jobs for California workers, enabling California to become a global leader in clean technology. A "Yes" vote on Prop 23 jeopardizes both economic growth and the improvement of air quality in California, and delays the reduction in the emission of detrimental greenhouse gases.
Many businesses and organizations oppose Prop 23, Rentech, Inc. being one of them. Rentech is a Westwood-based company with domestically developed technologies that process waste materials into ultra-clean, renewable synthetic diesel and green base-load electricity. These products are direct substitutes for traditional diesel and power sources and have very low lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions.
Rentech is a founding member of the Green Technology Leadership Group (GTLG), an organization committed to providing policy leadership for the clean energy sector. The GTLG launched an innovative new media campaign to oppose Prop 23. The GTLG "No on Prop 23" campaign is producing a series of video shorts with SHFT.com, the environmental new media site founded by actor-activist Adrian Grenier and film producer Peter Glatzer. The videos are being disseminated to high-traffic websites to target over one million voters. The videos, viewable at www.greentechleadership.org, focus on the growth of jobs and economic investment as a result of California's environmental policies such as AB 32, the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, and Renewable Portfolio Standard.
Prop 23 will stop job creation, investment and innovation threatening California's economy and environment. It's about our future.
D. Hunt Ramsbottom is President and CEO of Rentech, Inc. Rentech, which stands for Renewable Energy Technologies, is a global provider of clean energy solutions. The Company is developing projects for the production of certified synthetic fuels and electric power from carbon-containing materials such as biomass and waste resources. Please visit www.rentechinc.com for more information.