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Conservationists Call Ballot Measure "Single Most Dangerous Threat" to California's Environment, Communities

SAN FRANCISCO (October 17, 2006) -- Proposition 90 is a Trojan horse that could wreak incalculable harm on California's communities and environment, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

The group warned that Prop 90, if passed, would make it virtually impossible for state and local governments to protect wildlife, wild lands and other natural resources. It would empower hordes of developers and industries to make massive claims on taxpayer money in the event that zoning rules, habitat protections or other safeguards preclude them from exploiting or extracting every last resource on a piece of land.

"Prop 90 is the single most dangerous threat that has ever been leveled at our state's environment," wrote NRDC trustee Robert Redford in a letter emailed to the group's more than 172,000 California members and Internet activists. "As a native and long-time resident of California, I don't say that lightly."

Proposition 90 would allow property owners to sue for property "loss" caused by virtually any action taken by voters or state or local governments to protect the environment. In essence, the initiative would make polluting and other damaging activities a property right and would force taxpayers to pay to stop the damage. Prop 90 would undermine many of the protections Californians have fought hard to establish, according to NRDC. The No on 90 website is at www.noprop90.com. The measure also threatens to quash public voices in the state.

"Prop 90 is a ransom note from big developers," said Johanna Wald, NRDC senior attorney. "It will allow them to hold lawful local standards and safeguards hostage until communities pay them off with taxpayer dollars."

Two of the other statewide initiatives on the November ballot would be a boon to the state's environment and public health, the group said. NRDC is urging its California members and activists to support Propositions 84 and 87.

Proposition 84 would invest $5.4 billion in California's natural infrastructure to help ensure that Californians have access to safe drinking water, are better protected from floods and continue to enjoy good conditions at our parks, rivers, lakes, beaches, bays and coastline. The campaign website is at www.yeson84.com.

Proposition 87 would raise at least $4 billion to promote clean fuels, clean-fuel vehicles and clean-fuel infrastructure and reduce California's annual oil needs by 4 billion gallons (about 25 percent of our current consumption). Funding for these projects would come from a modest fee (that could not be passed on to consumers) on oil extracted from California lands. The campaign website is at www.yeson87.org.

"Protecting our drinking water and reducing our dependence on oil are two of the most important things we can do for the environment and public health in California," said Ann Notthoff, NRDC California advocacy director. "Californians can make a real difference by voting 'yes' on Propositions 84 and 87."

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has 1.2 million members and online activists nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

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