Opponents of Clean Air Having Trouble Gaining Traction for Prop 23

No political battle in the upcoming November election is as easy to sloganeer as the battle over Proposition 23, a measure that would suspend the state’s landmark global warming law, AB 32.  Depending on your point of view, the measure is either about “jobs over the environment” or “Texas Oil Companies Meddling in California.”

Across the state, the effort to repeal AB 32 at the ballot box has been lampooned as an effort by Texas oil companies Valero and Tesoro to overturn a law that would, in the long run, severely reduce their bottom lines.  And what if this reducing emissions thing catches on in other states?  It could be a catastrophe for the oil industry.

The only high-profile politician who supports the measure is the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, Carly Fiorina.  Democrat Jerry Brown, who is running for governor, is against itSo is  the man he wants to replace, Arnold Schwarzenegger.  The Republican gubernatorial nominee, Meg Whitman, claims she is against it even though she embraces the idea of delaying the law for one year. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa laughs at it, and the Los Angeles Times editorializes against it.  Senators Boxer and Feinstein?  They’re both against it too.

This lack of political support is reflected in a Field poll released earlier this week that showed a an 11 point gap, 45 percent to 34 percent running against passage of the proposition.  The bedrock of support for the measure seems to be the uneducated.  The less time you’ve spent in the classroom, the more likely you are to support Proposition 23.

Jobs, jobs, jobs.  The proponents of Prop. 23 would like the conversation to be about the jobs the state will allegedly lose if it tries to clean its air by mandating clean energy and green transportation.  But instead the conversation in public forums has been about Texas, oil companies and Texas oil companies.  Go ahead, try and find an article about this ballot measure that doesn’t mention Texas or the law’s fiscal support from “big oil companies.”

Of course, even a conversation on jobs doesn’t necessarily favor those placing “jobs over the environment.”  A coalition led by clean energy companies is battling back at the impression that the only way to protect jobs is to embrace pollution.  Joining that campaign are utility companies and even Shell Gasoline, another major petro-chemical company.  California has become the national leader in jobs that create products that reduce oil dependence and air pollution in part because of the market created by state laws.  Given recent headlines that China has surpassed America as the top producer of green technologies, pro-environment interests from around the country are just as vested in preserving California’s environmental laws as “Texas Oil Companies” are in repealing them.

9 29 10 grist

A recent study of campaign donations by the environmental mega-blog GRIST for and against Proposition 23 showed that $7.5 million of the $8.3 million raised in support of Prop. 23 come from corporations, many of which are out of state petro-chemical companies.  Conversely, the campaign against the ballot measure is coming mostly from individuals followed by “other organizations” such as labor unions and environmental groups.  Surprisingly, the campaign against Prop. 23 has actually raised more money than the oil company backed ballot measure.

There’s a lot of talk nationally about an “enthusiasm gap” between political progressives and their more energized conservative counterparts.  But when it comes to the fight over clean air, the grassroots energy, and money, is backing the environment in California.

  • This is great news. I’m surprised that the no campaign actually has more money. But based on the record of last June’s props. 16 and 17, it seems like Californians are resistant to corporate-friendly ballot measures, no matter how much money they put in. Let’s hope the same holds true for a certain gubernatorial candidate…

  • Robert

    This is why Carly Fiorina is bad for the State of California. She is no different from Sarah Palin. That she is even in the running is amazing to me. She is the most anti-environment candidate I have seen in Calif in years.

  • Norm

    Also the explicit connection between lack of education and voting trends here highlights exactly why the political right complains all the time about teachers’ unions and talks about abolishing education departments, etc. They know that they will gain votes if they reduce the overall level of education.

  • Earlrichards

    The California Jobs Initiative (CJI) is an oil corporation farce and fraud. There is no connection, whatsoever, between greenhouse gas emission reduction and the loss of jobs. This notion is an insult to the intelligence of the people of California. In fact, there is job growth in the clean, renewable energy industy. Chevron employs 65,000 worldwide and CJI is not going to change this. The only jobs created by the oil industry are clean-up jobs after oil spills and deep water, blow-outs and pump-handler jobs. CJI will make fantastic profits for the oil industry, increase air pollution, especially in communities around their refineries and there will not be lower gas prices. Koch Industries, Valero and Tesoro are super Enrons. Since when did the oil companies start to show any concern for the unemployed and for their families and for small businesses?

  • I live in Boston, Massachusetts. You would think the denial of Proposition 23 in California would make no difference to the clean energy industry in New England, but it does. Right now, California is the leader in renewable energy policies and other states are modeling themselves after it. The battle for Proposition 23 is similar to national fight between clean energy and dirty fossil fuels; a battle that clean energy needs to win.

  • taomom

    It’s interesting that Tesero and Valero have spent millions via Prop 23 to convince me that they are scumbags of the first order. Before this campaign I hadn’t really heard of either of them. Now I will go out of my way not to purchase any product from them. 7 million dollars well spent?

    Other than dumping oil into the ocean and destroying vast swathes of the ecosystem, it’s hard to imagine an more ingenious way for an oil company to tarnish its image than bankrolling Prop 23. The stockholders of Tesero and Valero should fire the boards of directors of those companies, and the new board of directors should fire the CEOs over this loss-inducing, negative publicity stunt.

  • OtherPointOfView

    It looks like the solar products people and the educated snobs are for this proposition. Does this mean that 45% of the people in California are uneducated masses? Actually, I hope it loses so more jobs will go to other states. The supposedly educated elite fails to realize that being under educated doesn’t mean you’re stupid and an extended education by right wing professors doesn’t mean you’re smart.

  • LindsayNRDC

    Initial Comment: Yes, one big argument against Prop. 23 is that the measure is largely funded by out-of-state oil companies, which is true. You can clearly see from the graphs that, although the No on Prop. 23 camp has raised more money, individual contributions make up the majority of their total funds and almost 700 times more than the individual contributions for the Yes on Prop. 23 campaign. Those graphs don’t lie. It is industry that wants Prop. 23 to pass, and the people of California as a whole do NOT want this. Show the “big Texas oil companies” that they have no place meddling in California politics to satisfy their greed. Send them packing. Vote NO on Prop. 23.


  • Jim23

    For being part of the “educated elite”, the commentors here have displayed a lot of ignorance, or at least a lack of curiosity about the facts. How was the “explicit lack of education” of the supporters of Prop23 established? I would like to see that study (poll?) In the ad at the top of the page, it claims there are 500,000 green jobs in CA now. A 13 year study, by Next10 and often cited by CARB, states that there were 159,000 green jobs in 2008, and that represented a 2.4% growth rate over the study period. Based on the claim of 500k, that would mean a 300%+ growth rate over the last 20 months. Considering that unemployment averaged 6.4% during the study and has averaged 11.9% for the last 20 mos. this is implausible. Prop23 would suspend AB32 until UE reached 5.5% for four consecutive quarters, not repeal it, also it would not affect any other pollution controls put in place by CARB. Are we really addicted to oil? I regulate how much fuel I use, based on the time/cost constraints. I walk, ride my bike, take public transit when it makes sense. As alternative fueled vehicles become available, I will assess the cost/benefits of them. I don’t need a gov’t agency mandating my behaviour or eliminating options. We are not in rehab, people. think for yourselves. Probably the most insidious part of the No on Prop23 campaign, is the portrayal of oil companies as the villains, when they (No on 23) are funded by venture capitalists and hedge funds. If greed is to be a suspect motivation, then these people are the most suspicious, remember Gordon Gekko? Thomas Steyer is a major payer on this side, and one has to wonder how such an anti-fossil fuel advocate can invest 100’s of millions of dollars in an Indonesian Coal mining Co.(Adaro) and be genuine about his claim of eliminating the use of fossil fuels. Since the current power contribution of wind and solar is only 3% of the total, and Carb is mandating 33% by 2020 there is an incredible market potential for “green” businesses to capitalize on government intervention in the marketplace, including mandates, subsidies,preferential financing,tax benefits, control of competition, and all paid for by the taxpayers of CA in one form or another. The same actors are in place (hedge funds), government intervention is escalating and the value of the product (GHG reduction) is subjective, sounds like a replay of another economic bubble in the making, unless we stop it. Save the business climate, vote yes on Prop23!

  • @Jim23, first off, what’s with the British spelling? Are we to assume that we are being addressed by a subject of Her Majesty? Or maybe you just have your spell check set to Br-Eng.

    I hear the libertarian arguments made all the time, that everyone should essentially self regulate just like Jim23. In a perfect world, everyone would do the right thing all the time, and we wouldn’t even need laws against theft or murder. Unfortunately, we live in the real world.

    The second component of this argument is that there aren’t as many green jobs as have been claimed, but AB32 would create so many green jobs that they would form the basis for another economic bubble/bust. This claim seems a bit paradoxical and is certainly difficult to understand as stated above. However it seems clear that government spending is viewed by Jim23 as a nefarious Ponzi scheme, moreover one which exclusively benefits “clean” energy. It needs to be considered that in actuality oil companies are the recipients of tens of billions yearly in federal and state subsidies, a fact which negates the “market purity” argument.

  • Jim23

    Drew Reed, your comparison of criminal laws to government agency regulation is not an accurate one. Although criminal laws do act as a deterrent for a minority of people, I think most are guided by their own morality. Criminal laws only apply if a crime is committed, regulations are an ongoing process of monitoring people’s behavior as they perform a legal activity. In the course of this monitoring agencies are formed, permits are issued, forms are required and penalties for non-compliance are assessed. My experience has bee that gov’t agencies prefer punitive over educational remedies to get their intended results.
    I can understand your confusion about what you stated, but it combines two different points into one. The first being the false statements in the ad bring all the statements into question. Organizations that lie don’t have a lot of credibility, and don’t persuade unless you aren’t motivated to do your own research. The second point was probably best made by Mary Nichols, the chair of the CARB at a meeting I attended last night (9/29) in Nevada City, where she was the guest speaker. She candidly stated that AB32 will have little if any impact on global warming, and that the primary goal is to turn CA into a green economy. It is my observation that CARB’s determined to meet this goal at any expense. so, if CARB moves forward there will be a lot of green jobs, no matter how many tax benefits,subsidies,mandates and penalties against competing businesses it takes. I am not in favor of subsidies for oil companies either, but that is not part of AB32 and should probably be addressed legislatively. You seem to have a talent for misinterpreting what others say. I never implied “government spending is a nefarious Ponzi scheme”. The gov’t spends money to provide necessary services, protection and order in our society, but I think

  • The No on 23 campaign also conflates the pollution issue with greenhouse gases, by showing pictures of smokestacks of oil refineries. Those are emitting a lot more than carbon dioxide, which is an invisible gas. And AB 23 does have little impact on global warming, which after all is a global problem. California is 0.5% of the world’s population, and maybe 1.5 or 2% of the global warming problem (considering that billions of people in undeveloped countries aren’t contributing to it). You need to get countries to sign the Kyoto protocol and get developing countries make the leap to clean technology instead of polluting infrastructure. The other argument is that scarcity of oil and other energy sources will naturally solve the problem. When we hit $200 a barrel oil in a few years, the world will shift pretty quickly to renewable forms of energy and greater conservation. It’s just like when Zev joked that congestion pricing was OPEC, when traffic dropped in mid 2008 due to $4+ gas.

    Nevertheless, I do fail to see how the implementation of AB 23 will kill jobs in the long run. If it provides a model for other developed countries to follow, then it’s a positive. And it also provides for a more gradual shift to clean technology rather than an immediate trigger such as $200 oil or a Middle East war which would wreck the economy greater. Overall, I’ll stick with the law but look to the Governor to enact sensible regulations that are crafted, yes, with industry input and are achievable.

  • In my opinion, this is really cool for this new / fledgling petition!!!! A Weatherford International employee signed the petition: “Stop Prop 23 in its Dirty oil Tracks! Vote No on Prop 23!” Weatherford International is one the world’s largest oilfield services companies.
    Please consider posting this to your FB and Twitter and emailing your friends about this new petition: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/393/408/971/
    The petition to the Koch Brothers and Tesoro and Valero states:
    We the Undersigned protest against the Koch Brothers and Texas Oil Companies Tesoro and Valero. Prop 23 is not representative of California’s interests, but only that of the Koch Borthers and Big Oil.
    We already voted for AB32. That bill enjoys wide support from a broad range of Californians. AB32 will provide jobs in our state, the kind of jobs we want in our economy — Clean Energy Jobs!
    Stop interfering with our laws. You do not live in our state. If you want to do business in our state, do so by abiding by our laws — or find locations elsewhere that are more agreeable with your goals.
    Please sign the new petition here: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/393/408/971/

  • Jim23

    The National Venture Capital Assoc. represents 425 venture caital firms nation wide. It seems several members want to remove the “venture” by endorsing AB32 and guaranteeing that the renewable energy industry is rigged by gov’t mandates, tax benefits, susidies, favorable financing and a captive market. The CA market for renewable electricity, energy efficiency, cleaner vehicles and low-carbon fuels currently stands at $10.6 billion, according to Cleantech Group, and will expand eightfold to $79.7 billion by 2020 if AB32 is fully implemented by 2012. Cleantech notes that CA leads all other states in venture backed clean-tech companies. Can a state that is persistently $billions in debt, has had uprecedented unemployment for nearly 2 years and the most business unfriendly policies really afford to make these billioaires even richer? Is VC greed more benevolent than other forms? It seems the government and VC consider the current 16,500,000 jobs expendable and are only worthwhile to pay for everything. The 2,500,000 better jump on board their gravy train or they will perish. To hell with the free market, it’s too much work. Save the business climate, vote yes on Prop23!



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