The California Business Alliance for a Greener Economy recently retorted in Fox and Hounds that the California manufacturers “continue to cry wolf”, after we wrote a piece on the needless employer costs being built in to the California Air Resources Board’s carbon cap-and-trade auction. The group’s response did not substantiate any miscalculations in our $3 billion cost estimates on refineries and food processors, they are just annoyed with our positions on AB 32.

Below is their piece with our responses in bold.

Title: CMTA Continues to Cry Wolf

The California Manufacturers & Technology Association is pulling tactics from the tobacco industry playbook, grasping at straws to spread misinformation about the state’s landmark clean energy law (AB 32) in “California’s Cap-and-Trade Auction Creates Billions in Needless Costs.”

CMTA response: We are looking forward to learning where our numbers are wrong or misinformed.

Let’s take a look back: CMTA hated AB 32 when it was first developed. They formed the so-called AB 32 Implementation Group to pushback progress each step of the way. They supported Proposition 23 to avoid the standards and kill competition. And they’re still at it, dreaming up worse case scenarios to keep California addicted to the old, dirty, dying fuels of the past.

CMTA response: You must not have been around California for very long. By 2006 California manufacturers were already the most energy efficient in the country and paid electricity rates 50 percent higher than the rest of the country. Added costs from AB 32 will cause production and emissions to “leak” to less regulated states and countries, hurting the environment. To minimize leakage, we advocate that AB 32 be implemented in a cost effective and technologically feasible manner, and any true environmentalist would agree. Still waiting for information that proves us wrong that there are billions in needless costs.

But poll [after] poll shows broad public support for AB 32 for a reason: it’s an economic engine for California, attracting $3.5 billion in private clean-tech investments. Since AB 32 was passed more than five years ago, it has propelled clean energy into the spotlight and ensured its place as a bright spot in our economy.

CMTA response: Actually, clean-tech investment was high even before AB 32 passed. Too bad clean-tech investments in California are not translating into manufacturing jobs for the middle class, and green jobs are not any higher here than in Texas. Our polling shows that the public generally supports AB 32 but are not willing to pay higher energy or gasoline costs. Hoping to see something soon about where we are wrong on the billions of dollars!

Let’s face it, big business groups have a long history of claiming that any given regulation will drive them out of business and/or create an economic slowdown. These predictions of gloom are seldom realized.

CMTA response: It’s actually pretty gloomy in the manufacturing sector. Lost over 630,000 jobs in the last 10 years, more than the national average. California is among the worst in the last five years for new manufacturing facilities and expansions per capita. Starting to think there isn’t going to be any credible argument that we are wrong about the billions of dollars.

And by putting a price on carbon, AB 32 invests polluter fees into the transition to cleaner and less expensive energy sources.

CMTA response: Now we are getting somewhere! But you are confused – the “polluter fees” are not necessary to “put a price on carbon” – that is accomplished by freely distributing permits under a declining cap and allowing trading of permits. The sale of permits simply imposes a huge new tax. You seem reluctant to put a dollar figure on the “polluter fees”. Billions of dollars perhaps?

I represent thousands of California businesses and they understand that market-based solutions – like a cap and trade program – are the most effective ways to send clear signals to companies and investors. Those signals create a financial incentive for reducing pollution, and a profit motive for developing clean technologies.

CMTA response: Right! A cap and trade program will accomplish AB 32 goals. We don’t need “polluter fees” to raise extra revenue that comes from imposing a multi-billion new tax on manufacturers. We might be getting somewhere here!

But don’t take my (or California’s) word for it. Look at cap and trade in the northeast. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative generated $1.6 billion in net economic benefits to the region with the average industrial consumer saving $2,500 per year.

CMTA response: Apples and oranges. RGGI is electric generation only, it doesn’t directly regulate manufacturing, natural gas and gasoline as we are doing in California. California has been doing energy efficiency in the electric sector for decades. We have lost track of the billions of dollars, could we get back to that?

AB 32 is not just one policy, and it’s about more than the proceeds of one auction. It’s a portfolio of strategies to transition California to a clean energy economy.

CMTA response: Sorry, ignoring the multi-billion dollar tax from multiple auctions and surrounding it with other policies won’t make it go away.

Yet, after being proven wrong time and again, CMTA continues to cry wolf. But I’ve never heard a howl.

CMTA response: You won’t hear a howl. Manufacturers will leave the state silently, without a word, 630,000 jobs and counting.