Californians Know Better

A bunch of the dirtiest oil refiners from Texas are trying to derail landmark California legislation that will cut greenhouse gas pollution and jumpstart the state’s emerging green economy. 

The cabal, led by Texas-based Valero Energy Corp., Tesoro Corp., Tower Energy Group and World Oil Corp, is spending millions of dollars to pay professional signature gatherers to circulate petitions to qualify the “California Jobs Initiative” for the November ballot.  They’ve already upped the payment to $2 per name – more than 4 times the going rate. That just shows how unpopular their dirty energy proposition is and how determined the polluters are to pay whatever it costs to get it on the ballot. The aim of these deep pocket polluters is to overturn Assembly Bill 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. This bipartisan legislation will reduce California’s emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases over time while simultaneously incentivizing the development of new environmentally-friendly technology and products. But Big Oil has AB 32 in its cross-hairs, and it wants a kill. More oil money, likely joined by coal money, is in the pipeline. 

But (surprise!) the California Jobs Initiative isn’t really about creating jobs in California. It is, instead, a calculated move by Texas petroleum corporations to run roughshod over the political will of Californians, avoid any kind of meaningful regulation and maximize their profits. This Texas oil initiative won’t create jobs. It will, in fact, cut jobs: about 100,000 of them in the clean energy sector.

AB 32 blazes the path to higher technology and a sustainable economy.  It is in keeping with California’s tradition as a civil trend-setter and research cynosure. It is creating rather than eliminating jobs, and the jobs it produces are the kind of jobs the state, the nation and world need. 

The initiative promoted by Valero and Friends, on the other hand, serves the few at the expense of the many.  The oil companies would continue to profit, but all the rest of us would pay.  We would be denied clean air improvements, a vibrant 21st Century economy, and we would ultimately suffer as unchecked greenhouse gas pollution hastens the malign impacts of climate change, and in California that means water supply disruptions, coastal economy hits from sea level rise and more.

Despite the propaganda from the Texas oil refiners, Californians are solidly behind AB 32.  A recent Field Poll concluded that support for the legislation currently stands at 58 percent and the public is deeply offended by the refiners’ ploy.  The initiative still hasn’t collected enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot, but almost all of the state’s prominent newspapers have come out foursquare against it.  The San Jose Mercury News declared in a recent opinion editorial that repealing AB 32 “would be a disaster for California,” and excoriated Republican gubernatorial candidates Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner for supporting the Texas oil initiative. The Santa Rosa Press Democrat called the initiative “a self-serving effort by polluters to duck clean-air rules”, while The Sacramento Bee warned in a March editorial that any effort to roll back AB 32 would hobble California in the world’s emerging clean tech economy, adding “there will always be naysayers to a healthy environment, but their hot air can't stand the test of time.”

Such unanimity in major media so early in the political cycle is unprecedented for this state.  Clearly, Californians are wise to the machinations of the Texas oil lobby. If Texas wants to stay mired in the archaic oil-based economy of the 20th Century, they are free to do so. But California, along with most of the world, is reaching for a cleaner, greener future. We won’t be side-tracked by fossil fuel refiners and their fossilized agenda. Don’t sign petitions for the ill-named California jobs Initiative.  If it qualifies for the November ballot, don’t vote for it.