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Measure backed by 2 big out-of-state oil companies would rollback air pollution standards and repeal incentives for clean, green-tech jobs

La Mesa Council to consider No on 23 resolution on Sept. 14

By Miriam Raftery

September 6, 2010 – La Mesa Mayor Art Madrid and El Cajon Mayor Mark Lewis have joined with over 30 cities including Los Angeles and Sacramento, hundreds of business leaders, and many public officials to oppose Proposition 23, the deceptively titled “California Jobs Initiative.”  A whopping 97% of funds come from the oil industry, with most from two large out-of-state oil companies, Valero and Tesoro.

“Self-serving interests like the two funding oil companies place their corporate greed above the health and welfare of all Californians,” Madrid told East County Magazine. “Have we not learned a lesson from BP and their disregard of rules, regulations, and corruption?”


Madrid will ask La Mesa’s City Council to adopt a No on 23 resolution at its Tuesday, Sept. 14 meeting at 4 p.m. in La Mesa City Hall.  Opponents of the measure now outnumber supporters several fold. Other local opponents include the mayors of Chula Vista, Del Mar and Solana Beach.  

Prop 23 would repeal provisions of Assembly Bill 32, California’s landmark bill that addressed climate change, raised standards for clean air and created incentives for creation of jobs in green industries. According to a new report by California’s Employment Development Department, over half a million employees already work in green jobs, including 93,143 in green manufacturing and 67,973 in green construction. Green industries are growing 10 times faster than non-green sectors.

Both supporters and opponents of Prop 23 claim a win by the opposition would be a “job killer.” But the Yes on 23 campaign has relied on numbers from a flawed study written by Thomas Taunton, a former oil industry lobbyist now working for Pacific Research Institute – which is funded by big oil. He cites no methodology or sourcing for claims that the measure could cost a million jobs, or other claims made in his report. Moreover, the Yes on 23 campaign fails to offset its unsubstantiated claims of job losses against jobs that would clearly be gained if the No on 23 "Stop Dirty Energy Proposition" campaign succeeds in defeating themeasure on November’s ballot.

No on 23 backers argue that the measure would kill hundreds of thousands of jobs in Califonia’s clean energy sector, bringing the state’s biggest growth sector to a halt. Clean energy jobs are growing 10 times faster than other sectors of California’s economy.

San Diego has emerged as a national leader in clean energy industries, which account for 60% of new jobs. From 1995-2008, the SanDiego market saw a 57% green job growth, ranking second in the state. Some sectors grew far faster; clean transportation jobs grew 2,655%.


Today, San Diego and Imperial Counties have 40,600 workers in environmental fields, the majority in construction. Five CleanTECH San Diego companies (Siliken Renewable Energy, Synthetic Genomics, PCN Co., Invergy and Clear Edge) plan to add 1,000 to 1,500 jobs in the next two years. Major corporations and even defense contractors are getting into green industries. SAIC and General Atomic are now pioneering development of algae-fuels, for example, while the U.S. Navy plans to launch a "green fleet" fueled by biofuels by 2016.

Lisa Becker is president of CleanTech San Diego, a nonprofit formed with support of Mayor Jerry Sanders and named among the top ten clean tech clusters in the world by Sustainable World Capital.

“We need to continue to provide certainty to the business and investment communities so that San Diego can cootinue to grow its clean tech economic engine. Prop 23 distracts from these objectives and our progress,” she said.

Anne Tolch, vice chair of the Sustainability Alliance of Southern California, said as a result of the threat to repeal AB 32, “international investors are starting to consider Germany, Italy, Spain and China for billions of investment dollars into renewable energy and climate change products.”


Reuters news service quotes Kevin Parker, global head of Deutsche Bank’s asset management division which oversees $6-8 billion for climate change products, that the U.S. is “asleep at the wheel this industrial revolution taking place in the energy industry” and that if incentives are not provided, “we’re going to take our money elsewhere.” The Bank will continue to look for climate change opportunities within the U.S., however, in areas that provide incentives for green energy investment.

Mark Hanson, head of United Green, has pledges from 32 companies that want to bring green manufacturing jobs to California. But he warns that if Prop 23 passes it would be “disastrous” as some companies have indicated they would reconsider their plans.


Major new projects are slated to add hundreds of thousands more green jobs. Examples include Tesla’s plan to make electric cars in California, Solyndra Inc.'s intent to move solar manufacturing here and add 4,000 jobs, Kyocera’s planned solar manufacturing facility in San Diego, and Private Energy Systems' goal of bringing wind turbine manufacturing jobs to East County.

In addition to Valero and Tesoro oil companies, the investigative site California Watch revealed that a "grassroots" No on Prop 23 group is, in fact, funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, who operate oil refineries in Texas, Oklahoma, and Minnesota. The Koch brothers also fund global warming denial websites and are major funders of the T.E.A. party movement.

As of August 18, Yes on 23 lists not a single state or federal elected official endorsing their position. No on 23 lists 35 state and federal elected officials. Yes on 23 lists 58 businesses; No on 23 lists over 292 businesses and business organizations, including 182 renewable energy businesses as well as corporations including Google, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., and Blue Shield of California.  Yes on 23 lists 158 total businesses and organizations of all types, including the California Automotive Association and Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association; No on 23 lists 474 groups in its camp including the American Lung Association and Sierra Club. Yes on 23 lists zero individual business leaders; No on 23 lists 321.


Locally, San Diego Councilmembers Marti Emerald and Donna Frye have weighed in against Prop 23, while El Cajon Councilmembers Bill Wells and Bob McClelland have voiced support.


No on Prop 23 has bipartisan leadership. The No on Prop 23 committee is co-chaired by George P. Schultz, former U.S. Secretary of State under President Ronald Reagan and also a past U.S. Secretary of the Treasury.  The other co-chair is Tom Steyer, a philanthropist, Democratic donor and founder of Farallon Capitol, a $20 billion hedge fund.

Schultz also chairs Meg Whitman’s campaign for Governor. Initially, Whitman supported Prop 23 and has repeatedly called for repeal of AB 32. But as opposition to Prop 23 mounted, she ran into a "green wall" and said in early August in an L.A. radio interview that that "in all likelihood" she will vote against Prop 23. However she has not backed off her pledge to suspend AB 32 for at least one year if elected.


Her opponent, former Governor Jerry Brown, has attacked Whitman for waffling on the measure, Time magazine reports. Brown calls climate change positions the defining difference between his campaign and Whitman's and warns that she will gut AB 32 if elected.  "When I was Governor, California was the world leader in renewable energy and it led the nation in efficiency standards," said Brown. "Investing in clean energy and increasing efficiency are central elements of rebuilding our economy. It will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, build the businesses of the 21st century, increase energy independence and protect public health."


Former Secretary of State Shultz views green energy as key to protecting both national security and bolstering the economy. “While we have benefited from low-priced energy," Shultz told the L.A. Times. "We've also suffered from periodic spikes in the price of oil. Usually recessions go along with it." Shultz, who up the Environmental Protection Agency four decades ago under Republican President Richard Nixon, added, "There's a climate problem connected with the burning of fossil fuels.... The basic facts are pretty clear."

Steyer observed, “Proposition 23 really boils down to one thing. Do we want California to continue moving forward as a leader in a clean energy economy, including continuing to create new jobs, new economic development and new investment, or do we want to allow two Texas-based oil companies like Valero and Tesoro to take our state backward and see the clean energy jobs, business and investment in our state go off shore to places like China?"


The No on 23 co-chair concluded, ““When was the last time an oil company spent millions of dollars to protect the public’s best interests? Never.”

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Prop 23

How much money has Al Gore made on this issue?

Great Job

Thank you for covering this important proposition on the fall ballot from a local perspective. It's shocking that any of our local elected officials would even consider supporting a proposition bankrolled by out of state oil companies at the expense of our air quality, health and clean energy economy.

I look forward to Californians seeing through the fake claims of the oil companies and recognizing this attempt to supersede California law for the brazen self interest it is, just like they did on Prop 16 this past spring.

I'll be voting no on 23 in November!