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Senator Bob Huff

Governor Schwarzenegger and 20 officials from his Administration were among the tens of thousands who recently flew to Copenhagen, Denmark to attend the much ballyhooed United Nations Climate Change conference. There, California leaders made speeches and attended meetings, often touting AB 32 – a law that requires a 25% reduction in state greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

The fact that California is the only state in the union to cap carbon emissions may be something to boast about in Denmark. Here at home, however, the cold hard reality of what AB 32 will mean to our state’s economy is beginning to set in.

In order to meet the lofty goals of AB 32, Californians will have to shoulder enormous expenses. A draft report by the California Economic and Allocation Advisory Committee (EAAC) says it could cost businesses and other entities that emit greenhouse gases between $48 billion and $143 billion to comply with AB 32’s strict mandates.

Earlier this year, a California State University Sacramento study predicted that the California Air Resources Board’s implementation of AB 32 would result in staggering costs to both businesses and families. That study was dismissed by environmental activists and others. But the EAAC was appointed by Governor Schwarzenegger’s Secretary of Environmental Protection, Linda Adams, to advise the California Air Resources Board (CARB) on the economic impact of implementing AB 32. $48 to $143 billion is the government’s number, and thus harder to ignore.

In his “California’s Capitol” blog, Greg Lucas did some enlightening math, using estimates provided by Cal-EPA and CARB to the committee on the likely cost of allowances that would be exchanged among polluters in AB 32’s “cap and trade” system and applying them to the carbon dioxide emissions reported by a number of specific California businesses in 2008. Alstyle Apparel, a clothing manufacturer in Anaheim would have to pay between $540,000 and $1.6 million under cap-and-trade. ConocoPhillip’s Wilmington plant would have to spend between $40 million and $120 million.

These costs are enormous, and for many employers, prohibitive to doing business in California. Other states and even countries without these extra logistical and financial burdens, will attract more new business, and welcome businesses leaving California’s hostile regulatory climate. Even those who elect to remain in California will pass these costs down to the consumer, raising the cost-of-living on already struggling families.

Out of work Californians – and there are millions of them – can’t wait for phantom “green jobs” to appear some day. The climate change California’s leaders need to be working on is improving our state’s dismal business climate, and we should start by suspending AB 32.

Senator Bob Huff serves as the Senate Republican Caucus Chair. He represents portions of Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties. You can follow Senator Huff on Twitter @bobhuff99.