California Air Board says there's dollars in green

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - California’s landmark legislation to cut carbon dioxide emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 will help the state’s economy in the long run, according to a report issued on Wednesday by the state agency charged with implementing the cuts.

A macroeconomic analysis of a California Air Resources Board (CARB) proposed plan to implement the emission cuts estimates that in 2020 the state’s productivity will be increased $27 billion over what would be realized if the state doesn’t cut its polluting ways.

Also, California going green will mean 100,000 more jobs in 12 years than today and an increase in per capita income by $200 a year.

Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the CARB, said the current crisis on Wall Street shouldn’t effect California’s ambitious plans because energy efficiency and other “green” goals will help most businesses’ bottom lines, even if those benefits come years after up-front costs.

Nichols also said some major green initiatives such as cutting use by energy efficiency are not expensive.

“Our historical effort here in California to deal with the crisis of global warming will also have the benefit of saving (Californians) money because the measure that we are going to be using to fight global warming also implements energy efficiency, creates green-collar jobs and provides other investment opportunities for our investment community as well,” Nichols said during a telephone press conference.

The cuts would be 10 percent from today’s levels by 2020.

The AB32 Implementation Group -- named for the legislation signed into law in 2006 by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger -- criticized the CARB’s report. The business coalition said California’s emissions law encourage businesses to move out of state to face less regulation.

“This analysis is long on wishful thinking but short on economic reality,” said Dorothy Rothrock, with the group and also the California Manufacturers Technology Association.

The CARB’s report differed, saying, “Positive impacts are anticipated primarily because the investments motivated by several measures result in substantial energy savings that more than pay back the cost of the investments at expected future energy prices.”.

The CARB is in the final stages of a plan to implement the cuts. It expects to come out with a final plan in October that its governor-appointed commissioners would consider in November. The plan once adopted by CARB commissioners will continue to develop until 2012 when it is implemented.

Nichols echoed comments she made in June when the CARB issued its draft plan for a cleaner California by saying the state’s actions may be a blueprint for other states.

Reporting by Bernie Woodall and Jim Christie; editing by Carol Bishopric