Commonwealth National Podcast

Proposition 23: Job Killer or Creator?

Duration: 
1:01:36

Proposition 23: Yes or No?

Bob Epstein, Founder, Environmental Entrepreneurs
Nancy Floyd, Manging Director, Nth Power
Jack Stewart, President, California Manufacturers
Tom Tanton, President, T2 & Associates
Greg Dalton, Climate One - Moderator

The night before an election that would decide the fate of California’s landmark climate change law, a panel of energy experts convened by Climate One debates whether AB 32 would catalyze or cripple the state’s economy. The measure before voters, Proposition 23, would suspend AB 32 until California achieves four consecutive quarters of unemployment below 5.5%. Jack Stewart, President, California Manufacturers and Technology Association, and Tom Tanton, President, T2 & Associates, argue that with California suffering 12.4% unemployment, now is not the time to burden business with additional regulation. “There’s a lot of pain and very little gain,” in pushing ahead with the law, Tanton says. Stewart agrees: “Do we want to go forward and have a growing economy and hold off on AB 32,” he asks, “or do we hobble the California economy and make it more difficult to employ the 2.3 million Californians who are out of work?” Nancy Floyd, Founder and Managing Director, Nth Power, and Bob Epstein, Founder, Environmental Entrepreneurs, counter that cleantech is the fastest growing job sector in California and critical to maintaining the state’s competitive edge globally. Floyd says that 500,000 green jobs have already been created in California, and that her venture firm alone had invested $200 million in 35 companies in the state. Epstein takes issue with claims by Stewart and Tanton that California’s climate change rules would subject the state’s businesses to onerous regulations and uncertainty. “This legislation lays out a 10-year plan. For an oil company, they tell you every place you need to be for 10 years.” Win or lose on Nov. 2, Epstein says the fight over Prop 23 has succeeded in mobilizing interests – environmentalists, venture capitalists, utilities, and tech firms – with a stake in the green economy. “What you have done, by bringing Prop 23 to the table, is you united a community that really needed to be united,” he says.

This program was recorded in front of a live audience at The Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on November 1, 2010

 

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