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Report: California's Emission Rules Helping Its Economy

Analysis found that California's economy would grow at a faster rate than if it did nothing to cut the emissions that have been blamed for contributing to global warming.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the next 12 years ultimately will benefit California's economy and save its residents money, according to a report released Wednesday by state air regulators.

The analysis found that the state's economy would grow at a faster rate than if it did nothing to cut the emissions that have been blamed for contributing to global warming. It offers the most authoritative projection yet of the economic consequences of the state's 2006 greenhouse gas law.

"Our historic effort here in California to deal with the crisis of global warming will also have a benefit of saving our businesses and residents money," state Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary Nichols told reporters during a conference call.

In June, the board proposed a series of ambitious measures to require cleaner-burning vehicles, increase renewable energy and impose an emissions cap on major polluters. It is working under a year-end deadline to finalize those strategies.

California law requires the state to cut its emissions to 1990 levels -- a reduction of roughly one-third -- by 2020.

Regulators estimate that under their emission-cutting proposals, California's economy would be slightly more productive than it would be without the regulations.

They also project 100,000 more jobs would be created as a result of the regulations and that an average California household would save $400 a year thanks to more energy-efficient vehicles and homes.

Investments made by businesses to comply with global warming regulations eventually will save them money as they become more efficient, according to the report.

"This is the green-light analysis that says we should keep pushing on this," said James Fine, an economist at the Environmental Defense Fund. "It's only going to help our economy, not hurt it."

The air board's projections contradict claims by business groups and some Republican lawmakers, who say the regulations will cost the state billions of dollars and send thousands of jobs out of state. They say Californians would pay more to heat their homes, buy energy-efficient appliances and fuel their cars.

"What we need is more specifics," said Shelly Sullivan, a spokeswoman for the AB32 Implementation Group, a coalition of 160 California businesses. "It paints a very rosy picture, but I think businesses and consumers need to know what it's going to cost them next year, in three years and in five years."

While the report predicts that the economy as a whole would grow slightly faster, some sectors would suffer -- at least in the short term. For example, revenues for utility companies won't grow as much because customers will be using less electricity, Nichols said.

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