Proposition 23 Will Cost Californians Billions

California’s Proposition 23 is financed by out-of-state companies, including two Texas oil companies (Valero Energy Corp. and Tesoro Corp.). A post last week by the Huffington Post says California voters “would be justified defeating Proposition 23 just to send a message to outside agitators to mind their own damn business.” The post also points out that climate change could cost Californians much when water shortages, wild fires and sea-level rise.

Ultimately, the cost of not doing anything to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will be steep. A 2009 report by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) titled, Climate Change in the United States: The Prohibitive Costs of Inaction put the annual heat-related health costs to California at $14 billion by 2100. Increasing ozone levels could increase medical bills by $10 billion. Protecting California’s low-lying coastal property from sea level rise will cost $6 billion to $30 billion a year by 2100.

Certain sectors will see losses in the billions of dollars. California’s agriculture, forestry and fisheries will lose $4.3 billion a year if GHG emissions are not reduced, according to the report. California’s milk production would decrease by 22 percent by 2100.

“If we don’t address global warming, you can imagine a cash register going ‘ka-ching’ all across the country,” said Lexi Shultz, deputy director of the Climate Program at UCS.

A report by the Economics of Climate Adaptation Working Group said that existing adaptation measures could prevent 40 to 68 percent of the predicted economic losses.

“If Proposition 23 were to pass, California’s market in renewable energy would be in danger of collapse,” a report by the Clean Energy Network says. The report cites a study by UC Berkeley professor, David Roland-Holst, which says that electricity costs could increase by a third over the next decade if Proposition 23 passes. Holst also found that California could lost a half-million jobs in the next decade if it stays dependent on fossil fuels.

While speaking at the Commonwealth Club in Santa Clara last week, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said, “Does anyone really believe that these companies, out of their black-oil hearts, are really spending millions and millions of dollars to protect jobs? It’s not about jobs at all. It’s about their ability to pollute and thus protect their profits.” Considering the money Valero and Tesoro made from their California oil refineries the last five years ($9 billion), it is rather apparent the two Texas companies only want to increase profits at the expense of Californians.

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Our series on Proposition 23, sponsored by EOS Climate continues all month!

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.