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Prop 23: A Bad Deal for California’s Farmers

3p Contributor | Monday October 18th, 2010 | 3 Comments

By Matthew Green, Outreach and Media Coordinator, California Climate and Agriculture Network

With three weeks to Election Day, one of the most widely watched initiatives on the ballot is Proposition 23, which pits oil company interests against the possibility of a clean, green energy future for California. By now you probably know that most of the $9 million funding Prop 23 comes from out of state oil interests; that the measure would effectively kill California’s landmark clean air and energy policies; and that it would cripple the state’s burgeoning green tech economy and prevent the creation of hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

Still not convinced? Then put yourself in the shoes of a farmer.

Even gradual changes in climate can detrimentally affect agriculture.  From altered growing seasons to escalating energy costs and greater water scarcity, unpredictable and extreme weather poses real danger to the livelihoods of farmers and ranchers. Energy price instability and the potential for energy price shocks make the already marginal profits of growers even more vulnerable.

California’s agricultural sector is the country’s largest and most diverse, producing roughly half of all U.S. fruits and vegetables, and providing upwards of 400 thousand jobs. A lack of preparation and innovation could result in major crop failures, which would, in turn, have ripple effects throughout the country and around the world.

The evidence about the impact of climate change is so strong, it led U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu to state in the LA Times: “I don’t think the American public has gripped in its gut what could happen. We’re looking at a scenario where there’s no more agriculture in California.”

Whether that happens, however, is dependent on smart policies in Sacramento and smart investments in green technology.

Some farmers are already demonstrating how to make the transition to a clean energy supply. Russ Lester, an organic walnut grower and processor in the Central Valley, installed a biogas generator at his facility to get the most out of his shells. The system produces combustible gas, electricity and heat, creating $70,000 worth of energy every year. That’s in addition to the solar panels he installed to generate additional on-peak electricity.  With sound policy that encourages private sector innovation and investment, it’s a model that other growers and producers could replicate.

This debate goes beyond just politics; it’s about protecting the livelihoods of California’s farmers and ranchers and safeguarding their ability to continue producing food for us all.

Matthew Green is the Outreach Coordinator for the California Climate and Agriculture Network, a coalition that advances policy solutions at the nexus of climate change and sustainable agriculture. www.calclimateag.org

Please read our other posts on Proposition 23 for other points of view on this initiative -let us know if you wish to contribute a post!


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  • Earl Richards

    Prop 23 is a “pain in the neck.” There is no connection, whatsoever, between greenhouse gas emission reduction and the loss of jobs. This notion is an insult to the intelligence of the people of California. In fact, there is job growth in the clean, renewable energy industry. Chevron employs 65,000 worldwide and the California Jobs Initiative (CJI) is not going to change this. The only jobs created by the oil industry are clean-up jobs after oil spills and deep-water, blow-outs and pump-handler jobs. CJI will make fantastic profits for the oil industry, increase air pollution, especially in communities around their refineries and there will not be lower gas prices. Valero, Koch Industries are super Enrons. Since when did the oil companies start to show any concern for the unemployed and their families and for the consumer. Chevron, BP, Occidental, Exxon Mobil and Shell are silent partners in CJI.

  • Wayne

    Yet another propaganda piece. I call it propaganda because you don’t mention that AB 32 DOES NOTHING FOR CLIMATE CHANGE!

    The key thing to keep in mind is that, according to CARB, AB 32 will do NOTHING to help global warming, will cost jobs and have a negative effect on the economy. This comes from the very people who drew it up!

    AB 32 does nothing for local pollution.

    Prop 23 leaves us with the toughest pollution laws in the country, among the toughest in the world. It will NOT increase local pollution

    If Proposition 23 is rejected, here is what will happen according to expert sources:

    •A 60 percent increase in your electricity bill according to the Southern California Public Power Authority.

    •An 8 percent increase in your natural gas bill according to CARB’s economic analysis.

    •$50,000 more for the price of a new home according to an analysis by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

    •$3.7 billion a year more for gasoline and diesel according to Sierra Research.

    •A $1,000-$3,000 additional cost for a new car according to CARB and automaker studies.

    On top of all that, a study conducted for the California Small Business Roundtable found that AB 32 regulations would cost small business alone nearly $200 billion, and would result in more than 1 million lost jobs.

    The more I learn about AB 32, the more I fear it. It just gets worse. Please vote yes on Prop23.

    “”2 Guys on the Bay Area Transportation Board told the CARB people, “If you try to do what you are going to do(AB 32) we’ll have gas at $9.07 a gallon and we have freeway tolls at up to $4,500 a year to drive during rush hour.”

    “Part of the plan is to stop suburban development, get people to stop driving, make driving too expensive for people to live out there, force them to live in high-rises, condos, in the city.”

    For months, John and Ken have made Prop 23 their top priority, calling it a necessary step to stop a law they say will kill jobs and cost Californians a fortune in higher gas and energy prices. With an estimated one million listeners per week, these two guys usually manage to rally enough votes to get their way.

    The video has John and Ken explaining why they think this bill is the most important measure on the ballot.

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/39853750

  • Boris

    Prop 23 is a proposition written and funded by Texan oil companies, why should they know what’s best for Californian residents?
    The fact is, small changes can get huge energy savings and reductions in climate change emissions. Installing extra insulation for houses or little wind turbines in peoples’ backyards have been done and proven to cut large proportions of peoples’ energy bills.
    So if only we did small changes like these we wouldn’t be so dependant on oil, and the millions of dollars that it’s costing us overseas!
    A new Gallup Poll shows that a majority of Americans support passing comprehensive climate legislation this year!
    It is only a matter of getting big buisness out of our government, and give the power back to the people of California – where it belongs.
    I hope this will happen this election.
    Check out what EDF is doing about this:
    http://www.edf.org/home.cfm

    Boris Kazinik
    EDF Ca – Regional Ambassador