“It’s the moral and ethical thing to do to protect the health and well-being of our residents,” Mayor Art Madrid
By Miriam Raftery
September 15, 2010 (La Mesa) – La Mesa's City Council voted yesterday to oppose Proposition 23. Sempra Energy, parent company of San Diego Gas & Electric Company, also announced its opposition to Prop 23.
The ballot initiative would repeal California’s landmark AB 32, the law which protects clean air, requires greenhouse gas emissions reductions, and provides incentives for renewable, clean energy jobs in California.
“It’s the moral and ethical thing to do to protect the health and well-being of our residents,” Mayor Art Madrid said at yesterday’s hearing, where dozens of residents turned out to oppose Prop 23.
Madrid, who chairs the National League of Cities’ energy and environmental resources subcommittee and has led efforts to assure that La Mesa will be compliant with AB 32, including setting up a Sustainability commission and working with SANDAG. “It clearly does affect us in La Mesa,” he said.
Sempra joins many hundreds of major corporations lining up against Prop 23, including giants such as Microsoft, Google, PG&E, and even E-Bay, the company formerly run by gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman (though Whitman has declined to take a stand on Prop 23).
By contrast, the Yes on 23 campaign is funded 97% by big oil companies, including 86% of funds from out of state oil companies that operate wells or refineries here. La Mesa Mayor Art Madrid characterized supporters of Prop 23 as “the biggest polluters we have here in California.”
"We support California's pioneering effort to transition to a low-carbon economy and AB32 provides the critical path for getting there," said Donald E. Felsinger, chairman and chief executive officer of Sempra Energy, in a press statement issued yesterday. "Applied properly, AB32 will promote clean technology, create new 'green' jobs and reduce air pollution. At Sempra Energy, we are implementing California's aggressive public policy agenda by investing in clean-burning natural gas and renewable energy resources."
Councilmembers Mark Arapostathis and David Allan joined Madrid in a 3-0 vote to oppose Prop 23. Councilmembers Ernest Ewin and Ruth Sterling abstained; Sterling cited a conflict of interest due to her holdings in both coal and oil companies as well as a clean energy business. Ewin asked numerous questions regarding how fast green jobs would be created and suggested that advocates should “walk the talk” by owning hybrid vehicles and asking their pension funds to divest from companies that pollute.
No speaker testified against Prop 23. Councilwoman Sterling read a letter from one area resident who opposed Council taking a position on any ballot measures. She also read a statement from Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina, who supports Prop 23 and has called AB 32 a “job killer” and indicated that solutions should be addressed globally , not state by state.
Opponents say that’s a false argument and that the real reason behind Prop 23 is to keep big oil companies from having to clean up polluting refineries. No on 23 spokespersons say that Prop 23 is creating jobs—not killing them. They have the numbers to back up their arguments.
San Diego now has over 750 clean tech companies, said James Waring, chairman of Clean Tech San Diego, a nonprofit that assists clean tech/green companies to relocate or expand in our region. “That hundreds more than a few years ago. “San Diego is fast becoming the world leader in algae based fuels,” he said, noting investment by Microsoft and Exxon Mobile, “and we are the world leader in solar.” Passage of AB 23 would be disastrous for those industries, he and other speakers noted.
Ken Sobel, representing the California Solar Energy Industries Association, had this to say. “The whole world is looking…Deutsch Bank alone is holding back $5 billion until they see if Prop 23 is defeating.” Sobel, who previously served on a bond oversight committee for the Grossmont Union-High School District, said passage of Prop 23 would harm California’s economy. He called proponents’ arguments “a smokescreen that has nothing to do with jobs” and added that “climate change is a very real issue.”
Miriam Raftery spoke on behalf of Mark Hanson, ECM's publisher who is the founder of United Green, a nonprofit that helps bring green jobs to our region. United Green's parent nonprofit, Heartland Coalition, is also pubilsher of ECM. Hanson has met with over 200 CEOs of green-tech and green manufacturing companies and has commitments from 32 to relocated in California, including some in San Diego and East County. However they have indicated they would reconsider coming to California if Prop 23 should pass, Raftery stated.
Other opponents of Prop 23 testified that it would increase cases of children’s asthma, heart and lung disease, raising California’s healthcare costs if AB 32 is repealed. Prop 23 is opposed by the American Lung Association, the League of Women Voters, and the American Association of Retired Persons. It is also opposed by the California Professional Firefighters (failing to address global warming could also lead to more devastasting wildfires.)
Patrick Dean, a candidate for La Mesa City Council, noted that oil reserves are running out. “Production has peaked,” he concluded. “Americans, Californians and La Mesans all want renewable energy--and we can do it if we work together.”