A number of prominent leaders in California’s San Joaquin Valley have opposed policies to combat climate change, in part due to the assumed economic costs on the region. But as our UC Berkeley/Next 10 study released last week shows, those policies are benefiting the regional economy to the tune of over $13 billion.
Over the weekend, the Sacramento Bee published an op-ed co-authored by me, Betony Jones and Noel Perry. Here’s a highlight passage on the benefits of renewables and cap-and-trade:
Renewable energy projects have brought $11.6 billion in economic activity to the valley. From 2002 to 2015, renewable programs created about 31,000 direct jobs here, as people were hired to build, operate and maintain generating facilities. Another 57,000 jobs were created indirectly, as suppliers and supporting businesses expanded. That’s 88,000 jobs in a part of the state that really needs them.
We also looked at California’s carbon cap-and-trade program, which affects the valley disproportionately because regulated industries are concentrated here. Cap-and-trade auction proceeds have been spent on high-speed rail, affordable housing, irrigation modernization, electric vehicle incentives and other emissions-reducing projects.
After subtracting compliance and other costs of cap and trade, we found direct economic benefits of $119 million and $200 million with indirect benefits included. Once auction proceeds that have been approved but not yet dispersed are spent, the region can expect $1 billion in direct benefits, plus $500,000,000 in indirect benefits. Cap and trade has netted the valley more than 700 direct and 1,600 indirect jobs from 2013 through 2015.
I’m glad to see these Valley outlets cover the findings, as residents of the region should be the first to learn of the data we found. The report dispels the common assumption that these environmental policies hurt the local economy. While certain Valley industries incur compliance costs, the deployment of clean technologies and other carbon-fighting programs are providing a much greater offsetting boost.