A new poll by the AB 32 Implementation Group showed voter support for California Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) has dramatically declined. After hearing arguments for and against the measure, 56% of voters approved of AB 32 and 40% opposed.

The fact AB 32 won’t have any measurable impact on reducing global warming, its price tag of billions of dollars in higher energy costs and hidden tax increases, and its impact on jobs drove voter opposition to the measure.

Voters were particularly concerned about the conclusions from the California Small Business Roundtable’s study of the impact of AB 32 on small business in California. This study found that AB 32 would cost the average small business in California about $50,000 per year and would destroy more than one million California jobs.

The poll also reinforced concerns that AB 32 would increase costs for just about everything small businesses need. Electricity costs are predicted to increase by 60%, natural gas would rise by 8%, gasoline and diesel fuels will cost nearly $4 billion a year and commercial office and industrial space will cost more under AB 32. This in turn would drive up costs for equipment and raw materials small businesses need.

It also appears that the AB 32 cap and trade program is being designed in a way that will greatly increase costs. It is likely that CARB will approve a system that imposes an auction tax on companies and public agencies that emit more than 25,000 tons of GHG a year which would total $143 billion between 2012 to 2020 at $60 per ton. That’s the equivalent of increasing gasoline prices by 53 cents per gallon or increasing a family’s electric bill by hundreds of dollars per year.

The initial costs will be imposed on food processors, electric producers, airports, ports, universities, fuel producers… more than 500 companies in all. However, small businesses and consumers will ultimately pay the bill.

Voters also were very upset that the California Air Resources Board (CARB is planning an end run around the state Constitution by imposing this AB 32 Auction Tax without a two-thirds vote of the Legislature.

And finally, voters were puzzled why our state was moving aggressively to implement a program with billions of dollars in costs which would have no impact on global warming. While AB 32 has important symbolic benefits, California’s GHG emissions are tiny and reducing them by 30% or even by 100% won’t have any impact on global warming.

The California Small Business Alliance continues to support a balanced strategy to address global warming that meets the law’s GHG emission reduction requirements without reducing jobs or hurting the economy. Unfortunately, we’re very concerned that AB 32 may be heading in the wrong direction.

For a copy of the poll visit the AB 32 Implementation Group website at www.ab32ig.com.