Better World Club

Saturday, September 25, 2010, California Watch

BWC Joins Reagan Secretary of State George Schultz and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in Opposing CA Prop 23

You Know, Just Our Usual Bedfellows

Proposition 23, the measure to suspend implementation of California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32), is perhaps the most significant initiative that voters in any state will be considering in November.

Not only will it affect the future of environmental legislation nationwide, but it will also be a test of Big Money’s ability to manipulate the electorate.

Defeating Prop 23 is a priority of New Voice of Business, where Better World Club President Mitch Rofsky is a director. One of Better World Club’s first policy initiatives was our support for AB 32, which requires California to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions back to 1990 levels by the year 2020, in turn bringing California into near compliance with the Kyoto Protocol.

Prop. 23 would suspend California’s greenhouse gas emission laws until the state’s unemployment, currently 12.3%, drops to 5.5% for four consecutive quarters. Until this happens, the state would not be able to propose or adopt new regulations under AB 32, nor could the state enforce previously adopted regulations.

As one might expect, there’s already controversy over how unemployment would be defined, with certain definitions ensuring that the 5.5% figure would virtually never be reached.

But a Yes vote is much more far reaching. A recent Pacific Policy Institute of California Poll shows that Californians favor combating global warming right away rather than waiting for the economy to improve by 52-43%. 61% of likely voters polled said they were in favor of AB 32, while 28% opposed it. 43% believe that the state taking action against global warming in the future would increase jobs, 28% said this would result in fewer jobs, and 21 % think there would be no effect on jobs.

''The lingering effect of the recession and a continuing state budget crisis haven’t changed Californians’ overall view of AB 32. While support has declined somewhat since 2007, a solid majority still favors the law,” Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO, commented in a press release.

Money is pouring into the state to change these results. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Koch Brothers (guess they still have some money left over after funding the Tea Party), as well as oil companies are devoting millions of dollars to change Californians’ minds. According to The New York Times, of the $8.2 million raised so far, $1 million came from the Koch firm, $4 million from the Valero Energy Corporation, and $1.5 million from the Tesoro Corporation (both corporations are based in San Antonio).

The threat that big oil and energy companies feel is clear - implementation of a law that would require much greater efficiency and development of new technologies would mean less dependence on oil and other fossil fuels. They could think long-term about how they could capitalize on an energy revolution, but they would rather brand efforts to create a new industry and generate energy independence as “radical environmentalism.”

But how “radical” are those opposing Prop. 23? Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of State George Schultz is a co-chair of the opposition effort, which also has the support of Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger. Schultz, in announcing his opposition, said, ''As a former Secretary of State, I see our dependence on foreign oil as one of the greatest threats to national security, and the Dirty Energy Proposition would undermine efforts to break that dependence.''

Add veterans to that opposition. Here’s Jon Soltz of “Our dependence on oil means our petro-dollars make their way to the very same extremists we're fighting. Worldwide demand for oil, driven by U.S. consumption, means that Iran makes $100 million more every single day. And, even the Pentagon has sounded the alarm on security implications of global climate change. If history is any guide, once California proves that we can be cleaner, greener, and more efficient when it comes to energy, the rest of the nation will quickly follow suit. Bringing the entire United States in line with Kyoto won't even be controversial, because California will have shown that all the fear mongering over it just doesn't hold water. That's why big oil and energy is doing everything it can to kill off the California law now, and why all of us must make sure that they don't succeed.”

While the law is California’s, this is an issue of national importance, as reflected by the donations of Big Oil and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, both located outside of California. Congressional efforts to place an accurate price on carbon have been delayed because of the inability to get past a Senate filibuster. If AB 32 is put aside, the entire effort to reduce our dependence on fossil fuelsand the Middle East will be postponed, possibly forever.

So, it’s imperative that everyone learns more about the issue. Even if you don’t live or vote in California, for the effort to defeat Proposition 23 still needs financial support, and we’ll be back to you on that in the next edition of Driving Change.

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