You might call it the green monster. Prop 23, an initiative that's designed to bring more jobs to California, could take out some collateral damage -- AB 32, the 2006 law that promotes clean, renewable energy. Which side will voters fall on?
As it's written, Prop 23 isn't out to do away with AB 32, just to postpone it until the state's unemployment rate falls below 5.5% for four consecutive quarters. That could take a while.
People are typically resistant to change. Especially when that change comes in the form of lost jobs. Prop 23 talks about preserving jobs while AB 32 touts job creation. The "Yes on 23" website claims that it will save over 1 million jobs. Question is, how many new jobs would AB 32 create? Enough to get the state's unemployment figure down to 5.5 percent?
Steve Maviglio with the No on 23 campaign likens the employment debate to the advent of the computer.
"When computers came out, everybody was worried about the loss of jobs in the typewriter sector," he said. "But we saw how that turned out."
Both candidates for governor have their opinions. Meg Whitman supports the suspension of most AB 32 for at least a year, although she hasn't officially endorsed Prop 23. Jerry Brown, meanwhile, thinks it just needs a little tweeking.
"Look, there isn’t a law that we have that doesn’t need changes," Brown said. "But the basic thrust of AB 32 is the direction, it’s the future, and we ought to stay the course, while making whatever alterations make sense."
While the debate over how to move toward clean, renewable energy continues, other countries are already moving forward.
According to a new report from Clean Edge, a clean tech research firm, none of the world's top 10 clean tech employers are based in California. AB 32 looks to change that. It sets a goal for the state to increase use of energy from non-fossil fuels to 33% by 2020 -- far above China's best-in-the-world 15%.
In reality, the clean, renewable energy ball is already rolling. In San Diego County, about 1500 charging stations were installed for electric cars to ease the transition to more efficient vehicles.
The problem is, AB 32 includes many mandates that can be costly to California businesses and taxpayers, such as state-mandated tire pressure levels.
I've done a lot of peeling on these two onions and I'm still scratching my head. There are valid arguments on both sides of the issue. Eventually many of the rules of AB 32 will move forward. The question is, when? We'll know a lot more on Nov. 2.