Let’s make California a clean, green job and money machine

Last week, California made another down payment on attempting to adapt to climate change.  Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a greater than half a billion dollar drought-relief package to mitigate the worst water shortage in recent memory.  "This legislation marks a crucial step,” said Governor Brown, “But Californians must continue to take every action possible to conserve water.”  In these difficult times, this is money which we now cannot use to create jobs, clean up and protect our environment.

Certainly, the mega-million dollar assistance is a necessary immediate response to the parched environment, but this action must be accompanied by a broader, larger discussion about climate change which is creating these extreme weather scenarios and water shortages.  It is clear that there is a strong corollary between the way we are treating the environment and the way Planet Earth is treating us back.

This broader conversation should include actions like the recent decision by the Los Angeles City Council to prohibit fracking in the city.  This is a good start and one that should be adopted in Sacramento for the entire state of California.  Fracking uses a tremendous quantity of water; Sacramento needs to ban this dirty and wasteful extraction in the entire state as a necessary component of any anti-drought effort.

For too long paid puppets for Big Polluters have used the tired canard that policies favoring a clean, healthy environment are bad for business and cost jobs.  As LA County Supervisor Gloria Molina wrote in a recent Op-Ed regarding a small handful of LA-area state senators who denied passage of a statewide ban on single use plastic bags (“Local plastic bag bans are working to keep Southern California clean”, LA Daily News, Jan. 23rd, 2014) “Since the dawn of the environmental movement, opponents have tried to stop progress by exaggerating economic impacts. With SB 405, opponents claimed over 350 jobs would be lost — when the actual number turned out to be around 15.” Supervisor Molina then went on to emphasize the economic benefits of going green, “Manufacturing and marketing of reusable bags holds immense promise for our state’s economy. This sustainable industry already employs hundreds of Californians — including many plastic makers who are shifting their product lines to make reusable bags.”  That’s right, hundreds of new jobs due to a measure that protects the environment.

Once exposed, the legislators flip flopped and joined the bill, but only after revisions that transformed the former SB 405 into a drastically neutered SB 270 so that, as environmentalist and ocean advocate Matthew Spiegl noted, “It’s not a plastic bag reduction bill – it’s a plastic bag production bill.”  (“PLASTIC: The Official Bag of California?” Matthew Spiegl, Huffington Post, Jan. 21, 2014).  After decrying “a legislative culture in Sacramento that has been unable to pass meaningful environmental measures”, Mr. Spiegl notes that positive movement forward on environmental issues is due to grass roots groups and individuals “-- not the lobby driven, special interest Legislature.”

Fortunately, the stars are aligning for a new paradigm that going green equals making green.  I have seen this clearly in my own work as President of the Temple City Chamber of Commerce.

Recent studies show that the areas of new job growth and economic development are in the clean energy technology sector - wind, solar, fuel cell, smart grid, biofuel, and battery companies.  For the millions of unemployed Americans, these green jobs are a beacon of hope in a stagnant landscape.  For example, according to The Solar Foundation, 1 out of every 142 new jobs in the US in 2013 was in solar energy.  This week the Los Angeles Times reported that Tesla, the Palo Alto electric car maker, is seeking a site to build a $4 - $5 billion battery factory that will employ 6,500 workers (“State lacks juice to win battery factory”, L.A. Times, March 7, 2014).

There has been a concerted effort by everyday folks like you and me to combat both the drought and the plague of plastic bags by making simple changes like replacing water thirsty lawns for drought tolerant landscaping or bringing reusable tote bags to shopping.  These changes actually make our lives easier, as well as saving us money and protecting our planet.  In order to boost our efforts, we need leaders in Sacramento who understand that saving the planet is now the best way to save money and create jobs.  By creating a government of the people, by the voters and for the planet instead of a government of Big Oil, by Big Plastic and for Big Polluters we will actually be enabling a government that creates opportunities for all of us.  Opportunities for good jobs, air which does not make our kids sick, and clean neighborhoods.

We the people have learned that protecting the environment, saving energy, and developing renewable energy creates jobs and powers the California economy.  Let’s send a message to Sacramento by returning power to the people and elect representatives who understand that protecting the environment actually protects us.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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