AB 32, California’s controversial energy bill, would require the state to cut its greenhouse gas emissions. Some believe this will lead to a new green economy that will benefit California. Others say it will create expensive electricity, and it will drive up costs for businesses and consumers. Proposition 23 on the ballot in November would suspend AB 32 until the economy improves. Here are two views on that topic, each with an L.A. slant.

California stands at a crossroads. The direction we take will determine whether we lead the nation into the beckoning clean energy economy or whether we relinquish our leadership and stand still, jeopardizing our health, jobs and environment.

The economic giants of tomorrow are working hard today to capture the innovative technologies, venture capital and green jobs that will give them a competitive edge as the world’s energy economy is transformed in the years ahead. California is in a very strong position to be one of these economic giants, but we are now facing a serious threat.

A proposition funded by Texas oil companies has been qualified for the November ballot that would, in effect, repeal California’s landmark global warming law, AB 32. This law was enacted four years ago with the support of a broad coalition of business, environmental and health organizations to set clean energy and pollution control standards, and to spur investment and create jobs in clean technology.

The law has been successful in bringing more than $9 billion in venture capital to California since 2005 – an astounding 60 percent of all venture capital invested across North America during that time period. 2009 alone saw more than $2 billion in venture capital invested here. As a result, California now has more than 12,000 clean technology companies and 500,000 people working in green jobs. If AB 32 is repealed, these types of companies and jobs will experience a significant downturn as billions of dollars of investments are shifted to other states or overseas.

Two generations ago, our nation faced similar crossroads. Air pollution was suffocating our cities, water pollution was destroying resources and habitats, and hazardous wastes were endangering the public health. An effort was launched to clean the air, water and land, but it too faced cries that pollution controls would cripple our economy. We chose wisely, enacting a broad set of environmental laws in the 1970s that have made our communities safer, healthier and more livable, and that have spurred a wide range of technological innovations and new economic opportunities.

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