Defend California’s Job-Creating Global Warming Law — Vote NO on Proposition 23

Taking full advantage of California’s depressed economy, a handful of out-of-state oil tycoons are trying to dupe working people into voting against their economic interests by supporting Prop 23, a ballot initiative that would overturn the state’s job-creating global warming law. It’s a brazen move bankrolled largely by Valero, Tesoro and Koch Industries to further enrich themselves while preventing Californians – including hard-hit construction and manufacturing workers and more than 2 million unemployed throughout the state – from realizing the immense economic benefits of a clean energy economy.

We can’t let them get away with it. Californians must Vote “No.”

Proposition 23 deceptively claims it would “suspend” California’s global warming law, known as AB 32, until unemployment is at or below 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters. In fact, since current unemployment is more than 12 percent, and since unemployment has held for a year at 5.5 percent only three times in three decades, this effort would destroy — not delay — the law. 

Killing California’s global warming law will kill jobs for years to come and leave the state vulnerable to the worst health and environmental effects of global warming. Here are three reasons why Prop 23 is a huge mistake for working people in California:

1.    California’s global warming law will stimulate the economy while protecting the environment and public health. This isn’t pie-in-the-sky speculation, its based on sound economic research from the Employment Development Department that says there are already 500,000 “green jobs” in the state – thanks in large part to the law – and from other research conducted by the Air Resources Board indicating we can expect about 120,000 additional jobs to be created in the near term. Given job losses suffered during the current recession, that’s a modest up-tick. But the dramatic, long-term economic prospects of clean energy in California are what explain why so many of the state’s largest employers and business groups oppose Prop 23 – from Kaiser Permanente and Google to Levi Strauss and the Los Angeles Business Council.

2.    The shift to clean energy will not happen overnight. In the meantime ,we still need California’s oil. An economy-wide transition will require an array of fuel sources – including oil and gas – for decades to come. And economists tell us the state’s global warming law will have little impact on costs for oil refiners. So the law should not put the jobs of current oil refinery workers at risk.

3.    The race is on. All indications are that clean energy will be the next breakthrough industry across the globe. The New York Times reported in September that China already employs one million workers in its clean energy sector. Meantime, California leads the U.S. in investments in clean tech – largely because of AB 32. Billions have already poured into the state. Since 2006, the state’s environmental policies have helped attract five times more investment dollars than the nearest competing state.  But California needs to keep the momentum going.

This week, a suspicious Pacific Research Institute report attempted to stir employment fears with wild claims of job loss if Prop 23 does not succeed. But journalists quickly learned that a big funder of this anti-labor “institute” was none other than Prop-23 backer Koch Industries, which has also funded Americans for Prosperity and other organizations that have fought against the Employee Free Choice Act, universal health care and other important labor initiatives. No wonder the economic modeling used in the study supported Koch’s position.

The idea that Koch Industries – or Tesoro or Valero for that matter – would be looking out for the interests of working men and women is laughable. And we can only assume that the state’s biggest oil companies, including Chevron and Exxon Mobil and BP, share that view, since they are sitting this fight out.

Today, California has a chance to lead the rest of the country and keep pace with China in the race to lead the world’s clean energy economy. If a few oil barons are allowed to masquerade as protectors of working people and kill California’s global warming law, it could turn the state’s current economic problems into a full-blown disaster. It would send a signal that policies supportive of clean energy are too easily scuttled by a few powerful special interests, and it would send investors fleeing – and tens of thousands of jobs would follow them out of state and out of the country.

Californians need to stand up for a global warming law that is drawing clean energy investments into California – and creating jobs faster than in any other sector. Vote “NO” to Prop 23 – a ballot measure that is bad for working people and bad for the environment.

For more information, visit www.bluegreenalliance.org.