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We’re saving whales, why not jobs?

Fringe environmentalists dedicate their lives to saving the whales, the planet and whatever “green” crusade is most fashionable at the time. Sadly, with more than 2 million Californians out of work, they have not invested the same amount of energy in taking care of fellow human beings. In fact, jobs in newspaper classified ads have become endangered species.

According to a recent Gallup poll, Americans’ concerns about the environment have reached a twenty-year low and global warming is the environmental issue Americans are least worried about. In contrast, Gallup also found that more than half of Americans believe that jobs and the economy are the top problems currently facing the nation.

Adding fuel to the fire of our economic turmoil, the nonpartisan fiscal and policy watchdog for the Legislature reports that California’s farcical global warming law will result in near-term job loss. Media reports have mislabeled this finding as “short-term” job loss – but that’s not what the report said. Once a job’s lost in this business environment, just like the long-lost dodo bird, it’s not coming back.

With unemployment rivaling Depression-era rates, we should implement policies that reduce massive regulatory barriers and contribute to job growth in California. Instead, this unproven, sweeping policy will only contribute to a job exodus as companies flee to states with more favorable business climates.

Look no further than former California State Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg to see the problems with California’s red and “green” tape. Hertzberg wanted to build a solar power company in economically-depressed Watts in South Central Los Angeles – but an endless maze of bureaucracy forced him to take his company (and good paying jobs) to the United Kingdom.

The AB 32 Implementation Group and the California Manufacturers & Technology Association analyzed a draft greenhouse gas cap-and-trade proposal by the California Air Resources Board. According to the draft proposal, at $60 per ton of carbon, the average cost per gallon of gas would go up by 53 cents and each year families would see their natural gas costs go up by $1,243 and electric bills would go up by $200.

Proponents of California’s global warming law say these policies will create jobs – but these so-called “green” jobs will actually take cold-hard green cash out of most Californians’ wallets. President Obama has cited Spain as an international example of “green-tech” investment. However, a Spanish study found that for every government-subsidized “green” job created, 2 jobs are lost in private industries.

Voters should also be concerned about the unchecked powers of the California Air Resources Board. This unelected body of bureaucrats has started a vigilante environmental police force. The Air Resources Board is shaking down businesses by assessing thousands of dollars of penalties for missing inspections – even if the business is in compliance with all of the state’s air rules. Those who have sought after openness and transparency know that it’s hard to follow the money generated from this eco-extortion because the Air Resources Board continues to stonewall anyone seeking information to hold this unelected body accountable. Astonishingly, the Board refuses to comply with a court order to disclose financial records for $57 million in administrative fees collected to implement California’s greenhouse gas experiment. In addition, the Air Resources Board promised to deliver the Legislature a revised, detailed peer-reviewed economic analysis of AB 32’s impact. In July, they said it would be done in December 2009. It’s the end of March and now they say it should be complete it sometime this week. In addition, the Air Resources Board refused to provide the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst with preliminary information from their economic analysis.

What do they have to hide?

The power to derail this bureaucratic nightmare lies in the Governor’s hands. Since California’s global warming law passed, the state’s unemployment rate has more than doubled. During this same time period in the Central Valley, which would certainly bear more than its share of the fallout of this law, the jobless rate has almost tripled.

The Governor fought for a provision in the state’s global warming law to delay implementation during the threat of significant economic harm. With eight California counties facing unemployment rates higher than 20 percent, we shouldn’t gamble with our fragile economy by pursuing questionable global warming policies. There’s no guarantee these stringent regulations will work – but there is a guarantee we will lose jobs at a time when the state, and California families, can least afford it.

Legislative Republicans and concerned citizens continue to urge the Governor to use the authority he fought for and put the brakes on this failed policy.

With California’s greenhouse gas reduction changes estimated to result in the loss of more than one million California jobs and $143 billion in increased taxes once it’s fully implemented, maybe we should place hard-working taxpayers on the Endangered Species List. Maybe only then will the alarmist environmentalists listen. I pray reason and commonsense will prevail in the end, but, honestly, I have my doubts.