Act Now on Cap-and-Trade Extension to Protect California’s Economy

Jul 17, 2017

Mary Leslie
President, Los Angeles Business Council

At a time when the Trump administration is working furiously to roll back progress on climate change and clean energy, Californians are witnessing a do-or-die moment for our world-class clean economy. Legislators are poised to vote Monday, July 17, on two bills, Assembly Bill 398 and Assembly Bill 617, and their votes will either advance our state’s cap and trade program or risk its collapse.

Our representatives in Sacramento must defend the tremendous progress California has made in leading the nation and the world toward a clean energy future. The cap and trade program is critical to meeting California’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030, as well as cleaning our air and improving public health. We’ve come too far to turn back now.

Our organizations, the Los Angeles Business Council and the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator, represent the L.A.-area businesses that have made our region a leader in the globally growing clean economy. These business are a pillar of our economy: A new report finds that the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana region leads the state in clean-energy employment, with 161,400 jobs.

Those jobs didn’t happen by accident. Rather, California’s pioneering climate policies have created a major growth sector in clean business. Cap and trade, along with other climate policies, have injected $45 billion in private and public investments into our state’s economy. These policies have provided long-term market signals and regulatory certainty, allowing clean technology businesses, investors and employment to flourish.

The current program has raised $4 billion in revenue statewide. Los Angeles has seen direct benefits of this funding with key projects, such as the Metro’s Blue, Red and Purple lines for service and capacity improvements, as well as a new station connecting the rail system to LAX Airport. The funding is critical to support many affordable housing developments across the L.A. region, such as the 82-unit MacArthur Park complex directly above the Westlake/MacArthur Park Station.

The expanded program is also expected to significantly benefit the Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach and could help fund the San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Plan.

AB398 and AB617 represent unity around a common goal. They resulted from listening to disparate interests and compromising to arrive at a policy that cuts greenhouse gas emissions, provides market certainty to businesses, and furthers our state’s transition to a vibrant clean economy while ensuring businesses can continue to thrive.

This is an opportunity we cannot afford to miss. If we don’t pass this strengthening of California’s pioneering cap-and-trade program, we risk ceding our global leadership on climate change. We risk our economic future. We risk our health and well-being. And we risk giving ground to retrograde forces desperate to reverse progress on clean energy and climate policy.

Legislators should not be distracted from our big-picture goals. They must show faith in the clean economy we’ve constructed so far, and in the better future we are building for all Californians.

Our representatives in Sacramento must ensure that our cap and trade program continues to move California closer to our climate goals, clean our air and support growing clean-tech businesses that are hiring an increasing number of people across our state.

Establishing a long-lived cap and trade program is one of the best things legislators can do for our communities, our economy and our planet.

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