Gov urges voters to protect climate law
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Tuesday he doesn’t just want to defeat the November ballot measure that would suspend the state’s greenhouse gas emissions law – he wants voters to trounce it to prompt Washington to create a new national energy policy.
Speaking in San Francisco, Schwarzenegger characterized Proposition 23 as a battle between out-of-state oil interests and environmental progress.
“Now, there’s some Texan oil companies, they don’t like our environmental laws,” the Republican governor told the audience at the Willie L. Brown Jr. Institute annual breakfast. “And so I want to ask all of you to do everything you can to make everyone vote ‘no’ on this proposition.”
The petroleum industry has spent millions to promote the measure, which would indefinitely suspend AB32, California’s 2006 law mandating significant emissions reductions by 2020. Supporters say such a move is necessary to protect small businesses and save jobs in a state where unemployment is at 12.4 percent.
Critics say that argument masks greed and self-interest among oil industry executives. They contend AB32, which is scheduled to take effect in 2012, ultimately would create more jobs than it eliminates in the short term.
Schwarzenegger called for voters to send a clear message to Proposition 23’s backers.
“It’s very important that we push back, and it is important that we do it with a huge victory, a huge margin,” he said Tuesday. “Then we can go to Washington and say, ‘Let’s go and set a national energy policy.'”
The governor’s remarks kicked off a series of events organized by Proposition 23 opponents. Later in the day, a group of 68 venture capitalists and investors issued a joint statement against the measure, calling it “shortsighted and counterproductive” and a threat to the state’s position as a clean-energy leader.
In the four years since AB32 was approved, $9 billion has been invested in clean technology in California and more than a million Californians are employed in clean-tech jobs, the statement said.
“This isn’t about wearing hemp and adopting a totally new kind of lifestyle,” said Alan Salzman, CEO and managing partner of the California-based VantagePoint Venture Partners. “Through this innovation, we are driving to make the energy, water and materials we use cheaper and better than today’s fossil fuel-based solutions.”
The investors, who collectively manage more than $415 billion in assets, warned that Proposition 23 could put that innovation in jeopardy.
“Proposition 23 is a classic example of short-term thinking that could destroy long-term opportunity and growth in California,” said Chris Davis, director of investor programs at Ceres, a Boston-based investment network that focuses on environmental sustainability.
A spokesman for Valero Corp. of Texas, one of three oil companies that have contributed the bulk of the money to Proposition 23, said that if the measure fails, California’s independent refiners will suffer and the state’s reliance on cheap overseas oil will increase – the exact outcome Proposition 23 opponents say they want to prevent.
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