"Green' bills dampen job creation

Ali Meyer: It looks like the green movement won’t be a movement for job hopefuls.  In its efforts to make the globe more environmentally friendly, environmentalists seem willing to increase costs, kill jobs and raise taxes. Three recently introduced bills, that legislators will consider when they return from vacation, are considered “job killers” that will cost jobs to promote a supposedly cleaner environment.

Cap-And-Trade = Tax and Invade

Sen. Kevin De Leon, D-Los Angeles, introduced bill SB535 in February, which calls for a tax increase to battle climate change.  Implementing unlimited fees and taxes under a cap-and-trade system, according to the California Chamber of Commerce, the bill’s language states that it would “establish the California Climate Change Community Benefits Fund which will require a certain percentage of revenues generated for the state each year from the state sale of compliance instruments for market-based compliance mechanisms pursuant to the act to be deposited into that fund.  The fund would be used for the most disadvantaged communities to fund programs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

“SB535 ensures that as California takes steps to address global warming that we invest in neighborhoods that continue to suffer from high levels of pollution and who are least able to confront expected impacts of climate change crisis,” said De Leon, in a statement.

Opponents questioned whether or not global warming is even justifiable. “I had a great time skiing in Skull Valley when it was snowing last Sunday,” said Sen. Ted Gaines, R-Roseville, in a hearing last week.

Some refused to justify it.  “I rise in opposition to this bill. This global warming is causing me to freeze to death. We’re still operating on phony information. We’re headlong into global warming regulation that has not been proven and indeed empirical data outside would say otherwise,” Sen. Doug La Malfa, R-Richvale, added.

The bill is now in Assembly appropriations.

Insulating Costs

Sen. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, introduced SB568 that will prohibit food vendors from dispensing cooked food in polystyrene foam or styrofoam containers.  While this bill will kill the usage of such foam containers it will also kill jobs.  Thousands of manufacturing jobs will be threatened because of this bill, according to industry sources.

Proponents of the bill argue that polystyrene foam is a danger to the environment. It is “not biodegradable which means that in the marine environment containers break down into smaller and smaller pieces which never disappear and easily mistaken for food by marine animals which can cause irreparable harm.  There is now estimated near Hawaii there is an island of polystyrene the size of Texas,” said Sen. Lowenthal.

Opponents claim that polystyrene foam is cost efficient.  “Polystyrene containers save businesses, consumers and governments hundreds of millions of dollars every year,” said Matt Sutton from the California Restaurant Association at the hearing. “If we reduce or eliminate the availability of foam packaging we will undoubtedly be placing costs not just on restaurants but on school districts and other government entities.”

“Dart has 600 employees in the state, two manufacturing facilities and 30 million dollars in payroll and all of that will be jeopardized as well,” said Michael Westerfield, a representative from Dart Containers.

The bill is currently in Assembly appropriations.

Targeting Oil

Sen. Warren Furutani, D-Carson, introduced AB1326 that will create a 12.5 percent targeted tax on the oil and natural gas industry to fund the California Higher Education Endowment Corp.  By increasing the cost of oil, imports will increase, competition will decrease and jobs will be cut, according to the Cal Chamber.

Workers from California’s oil industry protested in a rally at the Capitol May 16 to fight the bill. “The jobs are in jeopardy are not only the oil companies but also small businesses, small consultant companies, and we are at risk for losing our jobs. Its very important that the people know and the people are aware that these taxes will definitely hurt us large and small,” said protester Michael Joseph.

“You’re aiming at big oil but you’re going to hit the little guy,” said Allan Krauter, a legislative analyst from Kern County who spoke at the hearing after the rally.

The bill is currently in the Assembly Committee for Revenue and Taxation and awaiting a hearing.

Should the governor sign any of these bills? When California has so many economic problems, it seems strange to impose new hurdles on job seekers.

JULY 20, 2011

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