COMMENTARY | COLUMNISTS | CHRISTINE KEHOE

AB 32 essential for California's future

The timely implementation of AB 32 is important to California's economic and environmental future. AB 32 requires the California Air Resources Board to adopt a plan for the people and the businesses of California to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

The plan is a road map to lessen the effects of global climate change, and has been developed over two years of public hearings. Now is the time to move forward with this vital policy, and I applaud San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts and other members of CARB for keeping AB 32 on track.

The plan includes actions to reduce the consumption of gasoline and diesel fuels; increase our electric energy efficiency; improve our water conservation; and many other examples. Each action results in fewer GHG emissions and over the next 10 years tons of pollutants will be kept out of our atmosphere.

Such changes will improve our environment as well as the health of our citizens. Rates of childhood asthma, adult heart and lung disease, and cancer can be twice as high near freeways, industrial plants, and seaports.

A by-product of reducing GHG emissions will be far healthier Californians, saving millions of dollars in treatment costs, lost work time, and premature deaths. Aside from being the right thing to do, we must remember that healthy Californians are productive Californians. That's good for all of us.

As we move away from petroleum fuels we will start to reduce the 40 percent of our GHG emissions that come from cars and trucks in California. We will broaden our energy portfolio by reducing our demand for imported oil and thus reduce costs, and move toward energy independence that is as good for our nation's security as it is for our pocketbooks.

Moreover, moving away from petroleum fuels helps create a market for alternative fuels, which is especially good for San Diego. Part of our high-tech innovation and research at Torrey Pines research mesa is focused on algae-based and other alternative fuels.

This is part of the green economy that many economists and business leaders believe will be the next big surge of California technology development. It would be an economic engine for the next 50 years, similar to what the personal computer and the semiconductor chip did for our economy over the last five decades.

Such technology innovations will be exported all over the world. The development of hydrogen batteries along with wind, solar and geothermal power are all examples of technology that can be part of California's exploding green economy.

Before all this is dismissed as Pollyanna-thinking, let's remember California's record.

For over 30 years our state has led the nation and the world in energy efficiency, green building standards, and clean air and water regulations. Our electricity efficiency has saved ratepayers the cost of building 12 new power plants. We consume half the electricity per capita than the rest of the United States.

Many of our clean air regulations are adopted unchanged by other states. We purchase and drive more fuel-efficient cars than any other state. Our quality of life is admired around the world.

Our environmental regulations have helped our economic growth by inviting entrepreneurs and innovators to live and work in California. The creative class that is at the heart of the new and green economy is found here in San Diego because we work to maintain our natural resources, support research and development of new technologies that are needed around the world, and create markets that will spur more innovation.

AB 32 is the next step in maintaining California's lead in clean technology. Now is the time to move forward.


Sen. Kehoe represents the 39th district.

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