Manufacture This

The blog of the Alliance for American Manufacturing

New legislation will reward companies that comply with tough environmental standards.

California has long been known as a place where the state regulatory standards are tough.

A good example of the regulatory environment in the Golden State would be the Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32). Over a decade ago then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed it into law, requiring California industries to significantly reduce emissions that contribute to climate change.

Some might call that burdensome, though it sure looks like it’s working, and we’ll let you talk amongst yourselves to determine how you feel about that.

But! In the meantime, California has passed new legislation, called the Buy Clean California Act. This is legislation the Alliance for American Manufacturing unequivocally likes.

Here’s why:  

California, like every other state, spends a lot of money each year on infrastructure old and new. But even though Californians are clearly concerned by their contributions to greenhouse gas emissions (as evidenced by AB 32), the state was buying the materials for infrastructure projects from some notoriously dirty places.

Need an example? Okay. Remember when California rebuilt the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge? State politicians and state transportation officials in California dodged federal Buy America provisions in order to pursue the lowest cost construction option in China rather than sourcing from producers in the United States.

Well: No longer. The Buy Clean California Act, which was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on Sunday, will require the state to buy specific building products like steel from businesses that can demonstrate they use a clean manufacturing process. The bill’s sponsor, Assemblymember Rob Bonta, put it succinctly like this:

This bill rewards companies that have invested in clean technologies to reduce their carbon footprint.

We say: Good on ’em. Good on California, and good on those businesses. American manufacturers have put a lot of capital into making their industries cleaner at the behest of public environmental policy, and procurement policy should align to reward them for that.