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Have climate policies helped San Joaquin Valley? New report says yes

 (Craig Kohlruss/Fresno Bee)
(Craig Kohlruss/Fresno Bee)

As California lawmakers prepare for another round of debating the best way to combat climate change, a new study says the San Joaquin Valley is benefiting economically from the state's policies on global warming.

The report comes from Next 10, a public policy think tank that partnered with researchers at UC Berkeley to crunch the numbers.

F. Noel Perry, a venture capitalist who founded Next 10, said they studied the valley because it has struggled with poor air quality and an economy that's sluggish when compared to the state's coast.

“We think the San Joaquin Valley is a bellwether for climate policy," he said. “If climate policies work in the valley, they can work in other areas of California and many other areas around the nation.”

Politicians who represent the region in the Capitol have also been skeptical of state regulations, and it's unclear whether they'll be swayed by some of the report, which analyzed the cap-and-trade program, renewable energy standards and energy efficiency initiatives. According to the study, there has been $13.4 billion in economic benefits, primarily from the construction of solar generation facilities.

More jobs are being gained than lost, researchers said.

“In one of the most economically depressed parts of the state, if not the country, we’re seeing these policies create economic benefits," said Ethan Elkind, director of the climate program at UC Berkeley's Center for Law, Energy and the Environment.

A previous report from Next 10, released last summer, also found benefits from the state's climate policies. The research said California was among the world's leaders in generating renewable energy.

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