October 13, 2010

Vote the Environment, Reduce Oil Dependence, No on Prop 23

If you’ve been in San Francisco recently you’ve probably seen posters urging you to vote “No on 23” in the November 2nd election and calling it the “DIRTY ENERGY Proposition”. It peaked my curiosity and lead me to research just what Prop 23 stood for. After digging through the muddy details it became apparent that this was a blatant attack on our environment, strictly to enrich the corporate bottom line.1 It’s also an assault on California’s burgeoning green tech field which is leading job growth in the state.

By voting No on Prop 23, you can help protect California’s environment and green energy sector. The proposition, paid for by oil companies, was written with the singular purpose of repealing California’s existing clear air and environmental protection laws. It was introduced specifically so these oil companies can sell more gas at the expense of our health and environmental well being.

Take a few minutes to learn more about the issue by reading about it below and then tell a friend; No on 23.

A Bit of History

A few years ago the state of California passed a Bill titled AB32, aka Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. Slated to take effect next year, the bill makes significant steps towards improving the environment, air quality, and health of California and it’s citizens. The bill was passed by the state legislature and enthusiastically signed by Governor Schwarzengger. Essentially it requires the state to cut back greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, roughly a 25% reduction. Specific paths to these cut backs will be made by The California Environmental Protection Agency, and other state agencies. Already requirements for cleaner cars, more energy-efficient buildings and appliances, and requirements for the use of alternative sources of energy, such as wind and solar in our power plants, have been developed.

Prop 23 Dismantles Environmental Regulations

Prop 23 would suspend AB32. It would require the state to abandon implementation of programs that increase renewable energy use and cleaner fuel programs. It would further eliminate emissions reporting and fee requirements for major polluters. Lest you think I’m exaggerating and blowing things out of proportion I’ve included the second bullet point from the proposition below:

Requires State to abandon implementation of comprehensive greenhouse-gas-reduction program that includes increased renewable energy and clear fuel requirements, and mandatory emissions reporting and fee requirements for major polluters such as power plants oil refineries, until suspensions end.”

The whole thing reads like the plot from a bad movie. One where the corporate fat cats are destroying the earth for their own profits. So how do the proponents of Prop 23 frame their argument? They claim these new environmental regulations will result in the loss of jobs for Californians. The freeze to AB32 would be lifted when the unemployment rate in California drops to 5.5% or below for four consecutive quarters. Never mind the facts that this has only been achieved three times since 1980.

Follow the Money

So, who are the fat cats that are promoting Prop 23? Of the 8 million dollars raised by Prop 23, the vast majority ($6.5 million) has come from Texas-based oil companies Valero, Tesoro, and the Koch brothers2. While it’s impossible to know the exact motives for these corporate contributions, their interests are clearly in keeping California and the rest of the world dependent on oil as the primary means of energy.

What About Job Growth?

California currently has an unemployment rate of 12.8%, a twenty-year high. Does AB32 threaten to send that even higher? According to a diverse set of pro-business sources the answer is decidedly “no”. AB32 would actually create more jobs. Venture Capitalists such as Vinod Khosla, Hedge Fund Managers like Thomas Steyer, Governer Schwazanegger, even former President Ronald Regan’s Secretary of State George Schultz have all lined up to denounce Prop 23 not only on environmental grounds but on economic. They see the job growth in innovative sectors like green tech as being the future of California’s economy and worry that without AB32, investment in that sector will fall flat.

Prop 23 will kill the market and the single largest source of job creation in California in the last two years.”
-Vinod Khosla

Take A Stand, Vote No, And Tell A Friend

With the absence of any nationwide legislation and the failed climate negotiations at Copenhagen earlier this year, AB32 represents the most comprehensive and significant climate change regulation in the United States today. When it takes effect AB32 will not only reduce the pollutants coming from our cars, factories, and buildings. It will also significantly speed up the development of clean energy technologies leading to job growth in those sectors. Prop 23 threatens to unravel all of this. The health of our citizens, the innovators within our business community, and the preservation of our land and seas will be in our hands if we just vote No on Prop 23.

More Reading

The Brothers Koch and AB 32
Why Big Business Is Defending California’s Climate Regulations

  1. Full disclosure I’ve got an environmental bias so I always expected to side with the “No’s”.
  2. Billion Brothers Charles and David who control an oil empire and are major backers of Tea Party groups and deniers of global warming. Read More about the Brothers Koche in a recent New Yorker article.

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