Applied Materials CEO Urges NO on Prop 23

By Mike Splinter, CEO, Applied Materials

One of the most hotly contested items on this year’s California ballot is Proposition 23, an initiative aimed at suspending the State’s landmark AB 32 law (the Global Warming Solutions Act). Prop 23 is being touted as a “jobs initiative,” but the real thrust of the proposition is to suspend AB 32 until unemployment reaches a level of 5.5% for four consecutive quarters, a mark that has been hit only a few times in the last 30 years. As a consequence, Prop 23 is effectively a repeal of the law. At a time when the U.S. and California need to redouble its leadership in mitigating climate change and its investment in building a low-carbon economy, Prop 23 would be a major step backwards.

Four years ago, California put into place the nation’s first comprehensive law to spur the development of clean energy and reduce greenhouse gases. While the implementation of policies under AB 32 is still being carefully crafted, AB 32 has been the catalyst for the creation of more than 500,000 jobs and 12,000 businesses which have attracted more than $10 billion in venture capital — five times more than any other state. California has quickly become the leader in solar energy development and is, according to the Wall Street Journal, home to seven of the top 10 clean tech companies and three of the five best cities for clean tech job creation. In this period of time, Applied Materials has built a billion dollar energy and environmental solutions business, employing hundreds of people here in California and many other locations around the world.

Prop 23 would pull the rug out from this explosive growth and our effort to reduce our addiction to fossil fuels.

Prop 23 has been put on the ballot by two Texas-based oil companies, Valero and Tesoro, and has attracted significant contributions from other out-of-state special interests. To date, 89% of the funding for this proposition has come from beyond California’s borders and 98% from fossil fuel interests. Instead of attempting to make California policy at the ballot box, that money would be better spent adapting their businesses to low-carbon standards and creating more jobs in the process.

Meanwhile, Prop 23 is opposed by a broad and diverse coalition including the Silicon Valley Leadership Group; American Lung Association in California; AARP; the Sierra Club; NAACP; the California Nurses Association; Small Business California; and dozens of other groups. Both Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Sen. Barbara Boxer, as well as Gov. Schwarzenegger, oppose Prop 23. So does the San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, and nearly all of the state’s major newspapers.

They believe, as I do, that Prop 23 will harm our state’s economy. It will also be a setback for national efforts to develop renewable energy and address climate change, resulting in more air pollution and higher energy costs for businesses and our families.

Mike Splinter, chairman, president and CEO of Applied Materials, is a 30-year veteran of the semiconductor industry, who joined the world’s largest semiconductor and flat panel equipment company after a successful career at Intel.  Under his leadership, Applied entered the solar market in 2006 and has quickly emerged as the world’s leading photovoltaic equipment supplier.

This piece was originally posted on Mr. Splinter’s blog on Applied Material’s web site.

Our series on Proposition 23 will run up to Election Day, November 2.  Please contact Leon Kaye if you are interested in guest posting and can offer an economic or business case regarding Proposition 23.

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