| Senate Republicans got the Legislative Analyst's Office to deliver an assessment of AB 32's impact on jobs that would, on the surface, seem to validate their claims that AB 32 will hurt jobs. The LAO hedged as much as they could, saying that much of the impact of AB 32 was uncertain, but did argue that some job losses would occur:
While CARB did not estimate job impacts for other time periods, it seems most likely to us that the implementation of AB 32 through the SP will result in the near term in California job losses, even after recognizing that many of the SP's programs phase in over time.
We'll almost certainly hear a lot about this analysis from the right and the global warming deniers. But is it accurate?
A closer look suggests it's not. The LAO analysis fails to actually explain their projected job losses in any great detail. There's no accounting of which industries might see near-term job losses or how many jobs might be lost, or which regulations would lead to these job losses. There is a rather vague and general discussion of possible impacts of things such as increased fuel economy standards, but overall there isn't really anything in the report to justify the headline claim that AB 32 will cause near-term job losses.
Further, the LAO did not assess how many green jobs AB 32 has already created. The LAO did charge that the California Air Resources Board "overstated" the number of jobs AB 32 would have created by 2020, but their case is quite weak. The LAO argues that the economic modeling assumptions used by CARB have been questioned by some economists, and that the overall impact of the regulations aren't yet well understood.
While that might be true, the LAO has merely asserted that the CARB projections could be in error - they have not conclusively demonstrated this to be the case. The LAO is raising some questions that would be good for the statisticians and economic modelers to debate, but that's about as far as it goes.
More problematically, the LAO did not contextualize this discussion at all. There is no discussion or analysis whatsoever of the costs to the state's economy of unchecked global warming, estimated by Next10 to be possibly as high as $4 billion per year for the rest of the century. Nor is there any discussion of the potential loss in green jobs if California suspends AB 32 indefinitely and other states and nations take the lead in creating those industries.
Instead the LAO's analysis seems to assume that the status quo is just fine, and that there are no major economic threats that AB 32 might help address. We all know the status quo is not acceptable, and that doing nothing on global warming, as the AB 32 opponents would have us do, is a recipe for ruin.
The LAO analysis does not really bolster the opponents' cause, though Republicans are already claiming it does. Still, the LAO would have been better off not delivering this flawed report, and waiting until they could provide more detailed evidence of their assertions about AB 32's near-term job impact and CARB's job estimates, as well as properly contextualized that discussion against the backdrop of a global race to innovate green jobs and the costs of the climate crisis.