There is a highly controversial provision being added to California’s ballots this November called Prop 23. The proposition, which is backed by several oil companies, is asking for the state to suspend California’s 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act that calls for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) to 1990 levels by 2020. Supporters of Prop 23 want the suspension to be in place until unemployment drops to 5.5 percent in four consecutive quarters. The state is currently looking at double-digit unemployment numbers of 13.2 percent, one of the worst in the nation.
The supporters of Prop 23, led by Texas refining giants Valero Energy Corp. and Tesoro, Inc., are claiming that this piece of legislation will cost businesses and consumers billions of dollars in higher energy costs over the next decade. Environmental organizations are fighting back arguing that this is an attempt to kill California’s green energy policy.
Yet those who oppose the bill are claiming that the passage of this proposition would jeopardize a half million clean tech jobs, 12,000 companies and billions of dollars of private investment in California. They also contend that the state’s global leadership in clean tech would succumb to nations such as Asia and Europe. To date, more than 250 businesses and organizations have vocally opposed Prop 23.
In a new report, “Going Backward,” released by the Clean Economy Network (CEN), Prop 23 would suspend efforts to increase electricity produced from renewable sources as well as stifle energy efficiency standards for homes and office buildings. The report says that this effort, if passed, would increase healthcare costs due to pollution as well as raise electricity bills by up to a third over the next 12 years.
“Prop 23 should be viewed for what it is: a mechanism for regulatory and investment uncertainty that only benefits its backers – big out-of-state oil companies Valero and Tesoro – while putting the economic health of the rest of California at risk,” said Jeff Anderson, Executive Director of CEN. “Sending jobs and investment overseas is a no-win proposition for all Americans and must be defeated.”
In an environment that has lost most private investors, those who oppose Prop 23 fear that what little money is left will dry up. There is also concern that if California backs off of its current climate change and alternative energy legislation, that it will signal other states to follow suit. The result, they say, would be detrimental to our country’s efforts at creating comprehensive energy and climate policy in the U.S.