is no secret that two Texas oil companies have bought their way onto
the California ballot in an attempt to undo California’s clean energy
and clean air standards. The companies bankrolling Proposition 23,
Tesoro and Valero, are two of the largest polluters in our state. Their
intent: kill California’s job-creating clean air and energy standards
and cripple their clean-energy competition.
Their campaign, which has received more than 89 percent of its
contributions from out of state, deceptively frames Proposition 23 as a
"jobs" initiative and uses the word "suspend" rather than repeal. But
the trigger for resumption of the law would be when unemployment falls
below 5.5 percent for an entire year – something that has happened only
three times in 40 years, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office.
For any business, Prop 23 would create a climate of uncertainty and
cause chaos in the marketplace.
Some have said Prop 23 will help minorities and low-income families,
who have already been hit hard by the recession. As two female business
leaders of color, we know better. And so do two out of three
Californians who support the law, according to a just-released Public
Policy Institute of California poll.
If the law moves forward, an independent analysis by the University of
California predicts that the state’s gross domestic product will
increase by $20 billion, and California will benefit from 112,000 new
jobs, including positions in manufacturing, construction and
engineering in addition to the 500,000 clean tech jobs we already have.
These jobs are up and down the career ladder, with most in urban areas.
The dirty-energy Proposition 23 would make electricity 33 percent more
expensive by the end of this decade and will disproportionately affect
low-income households, which spend a greater percentage of their
incomes on energy. It would cost the state $80 billion in gross
domestic product and threaten half a million jobs by 2020.
The oil companies bankrolling Proposition 23 are blaming the law, which
does not even go into effect until 2011, for job losses that were
caused by the recession. In fact, since it was enacted, the law has
spurred more than $10 billion in investment in clean energy, helping
spawn 12,000 clean-energy businesses and thousands of new patents.
Further, the clean-energy sector is the one bright spot in our economy:
Clean-energy jobs have grown 10 times faster than the statewide average
since 2005, to more than 125,000 today. The economic impact is one
reason the Silicon Valley Leadership Group strongly opposes Proposition
While the Texas oil companies say their dirty energy initiative is good
for our economy, it really is just good for them. Proposition 23 would
put California back on the path of dependence on foreign oil and let
polluters off the hook.
According to the American Lung Association, 95 percent of Californians
live in areas with unhealthy air, contributing to 19,000 premature
deaths, hundreds of thousands of asthma attacks and trips to the
hospital. The Global Warming Solutions Act works to lower emissions of
both greenhouse gases and toxic pollutants. And since California’s
major sources of pollution are most likely to be located in low-income
neighborhoods and near communities of color, Proposition 23 would
disproportionately affect those least able to cope.
Passing Proposition 23 would create regulatory chaos for businesses
that have already invested in a clean-energy future and would drive
investment and jobs out of the state. This is one reason well-respected
businesses such as Google, eBay, Applied Materials, PG&E, SunPower
and others publicly oppose Proposition 23.
Defeating Proposition 23 in November will be a victory for California’s
economy – while also sending a message to out-of-state polluters that
Californians can’t be bought.