Setting the Record Straight (Again): Small Businesses Not Harmed by AB 32.

By Susan Frank, Director, California Business Alliance for a Green Economy

I do my best to avoid responding directly to groundless attacks on California’s clean energy and climate law (AB 32), but this latest incident demands some truth-telling. John Kabateck of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) makes claims in a Fox and Hounds op-ed that are consistent with the dirty energy and old manufacturing industry arguments against AB 32, and which belie logic and fact.

He repeatedly claims that small businesses are being harmed by AB 32 provisions, including falsely suggesting that small business owners will need “to bid significant amounts of money for ‘carbon emission credits’ in order to keep operating.” In fact, small businesses are not required to bid on credits at all as the cap and trade auctions only applies to the state’s biggest emitters – a small fraction of the businesses that operate in California.

Furthermore, research shows that AB 32 will not have a significant impact on small business and that there are tremendous opportunities for small businesses – the very drivers of California’s rebounding economy – under the law.

Dig a bit deeper and you will learn a troubling truth: NFIB’ s efforts run counter to the interests of small businesses. As a former chamber of commerce executive and someone who has worked closely with small businesses for over 20 years, I know that what the small business community relies on is certainty and predictability. The more than 1,260 members of the California Business Alliance for a Green Economy – most of which are small, mainstream businesses – support smart and thoughtful clean energy policies.

NFIB certainly doesn’t represent their interests by filing a lawsuit against AB 32, threatening to disrupt implementation of a program that voters resoundingly support. This latest legal salvo is yet another attempt to thwart the will of Californians. Not to mention that respected legal experts have analyzed similar prior lawsuits, and found them to be “weak.”

Kabateck suggests that his organization’s lawsuit will provide “a more stable and conducive environment to do business in” and yet these very actions are creating instability and uncertainty for companies looking to invest in and help grow California’s clean energy economy. A recent U.S. Clean Tech Leadership Index report found that California is the runaway leader in clean tech businesses including clean electricity, clean transportation, energy intelligence and green building for the fourth straight year. But we can’t take that for granted. The reason we keep setting new records is in part due to groundbreaking policies like AB 32. If we fail to stand by our landmark policies, the investment will find other suitors.

By aligning themselves with a dirty energy past, NFIB and friends are trying to prevent innovative businesses from transforming California’s economy to lead the 21st century. This is a wrong-headed strategy for an organization purporting to represent small businesses, and has no place in California.

© California Business Alliance for a Clean Economy

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