Apparently big Texas oil -Texas-based Valero Energy Corporation and Tesoro Corporation along with Kansas-based Koch Industries (Kansas apparently does not generate the same fear as Texas oil) – did not get that memo however, as they sponsored Proposition 23. This time they sought to use the economy as a wedge to get Californians to suspend the ambitious AB 32, which has stringent requirements for carbon emission reductions.
Opponents argue that suspension of AB 32, which established a first-in-the-world program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, would not only damage the environment, it would also jeopardize California’s standing as a leader in the green economy. In fact, opponents argue, policies like AB 32 have helped create and sustain more than half a million jobs statewide.
“Attempts to shelve the state’s landmark law to combat climate change are regressive, short-sighted and counter-productive, and I urge Californians to vote no on Proposition 23,” Democratic Governor Candidate Jerry Brown said in a September statement, reaffirming his opposition to Prop 23.
New polling suggests that support for the measure has declined. In the PPIC poll released this week, they found that likely voters are now much more likely to say they will vote no (48%) on the proposition than yes (37%), while in September they were closely divided (43% yes, 42% no). Across parties, opposition has increased slightly among Democrats (53% today, 48% September) and Independents (54% today, 43% September), while support has held steady among Republicans (46% today, 45% September).
The PPIC has found that an aggressive campaign by environmental groups and Northern California investors is starting to sway public opinion.
While out-of-state oil companies have spent millions backing the measure, they have been outspent in recent weeks by opponents, who have contributed more than $10.6 million this month. That comes on top of the $12.6 million reported by the No on 23 campaign of Sept. 30.
Some of the largest donations have come from the National Resources Defense Council, the National Wildlife Federation and investors in alternative energy.
“When you have that kind of money to spread misinformation about what Proposition 23 is all about, it’s not surprising that the numbers have shifted,” Anita Mangels, a spokeswoman for the Yes on 23 campaign, said of the latest poll.
The declining support for Proposition 23 is a sign voters are seeing through the oil industry’s “deception,” said Steve Maviglio, a spokesman for the measure’s opponents. “I don’t think the oil companies knew what they got into when they decided to try to overturn such a popular law.”
What has happened is that Californians have become much more sophisticated about a lot of these ballot measures that are deceptive. PG&E was the tough test because of how much the opposition was outspent by the utility giant. This is much more typical, with some estimates showing about $9 million contributed by the oil giants, but suddenly there appeared $28 million from environmental groups and a lot of start-up companies.
What many who oppose tougher air standards fail to recognize is that the market is far more responsive to government intervention than people believe. Thus, creating tougher air standards may not harm but rather help the economy as it forces industry and start-up companies to become more and not less innovative.
There is a huge burgeoning market of green energy, greenhouse gas reducing technologies, mitigations, retrofitting, construction, solar industry, and other high-tech endeavors that are thriving simply because people are starting to look at ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Those who want to continue to argue against the scientific consensus on climate change miss a key point – we are out of time if the climate experts are correct. We cannot continue to debate for ten more years. We have to act. The best way to act is to use our market advantage to build new, cleaner burning technologies and export those technologies across the globe.
At that point, it becomes a win-win, we improve the environment and at the same time fuel a new economic boom.
Voters in California will send a powerful message in a few weeks, and that will, in fact, force oil companies to abandon their “business as usual,” which should benefit everyone.
—David M. Greenwald reporting