California: Prop. 23 defeat as voters say they want clean energy jobs

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has hailed its defeat is a “clear win” for the climate and clean energy jobs.

"Millions of voters said they see clean energy jobs as the path forward through a tough economic climate," said EDF president, Fred Krupp. "That sends a strong message far beyond California. Voters asked their leaders to chart a future toward clean energy, less pollution, and less dependence on imported oil. Congress should pay attention."

Supporters of the failed Prop 23 claimed that growing clean energy industries would cost jobs. But Californians – who support AB 32, “the most forward-thinking energy policy in America”, and who are reportedly witnessing job creation in clean energy sectors – rejected that claim. Instead, they embraced the potential for vast economic growth in clean energy markets, such as solar.

Last month, several opponents also spoke against the proposition at a "No on Prop 23" press teleconference, including Solar Energy Industries Association CEO Rhone Resch, who called its defeat "critical". Prop 23 would represent a very significant loss to the industry considering that AB 32 has the potential to result in up to 20 gigawatts of new solar installations by 2015, he added. "The effect would be devastating," Resch said.

In 2010, the global clean energy market was USD$10 billion. By 2020, it is expected to reach $80 billion, thus becoming the world’s third-largest industrial sector. According to EDF, China is spending millions of dollars a day to control its energy future. It says that last year, China invested more money in renewable energy than the U.S. and is now considered the world’s clean energy powerhouse.

"If America follows California’s lead, it can be one of the biggest winners in this growing, multi-billion-dollar economy," said EDF California Climate Initiative Director Derek Walker. "Our energy, economic and environmental future depends on us seizing this opportunity."

EDF West Coast political director, Wade Crowfoot, added: “The No on Prop 23 campaign brought together an unprecedented bi-partisan coalition which represent the ‘new face’ of our clean energy movement: large and small business leaders, Republicans and Democrats, organized labor, communities of color, public health and environmental groups.

"These disparate entities recognize that clean energy fuels job growth, cuts pollution and increases our energy independence."