Proposition 23’s Eclectic Opposition Versus Its Oily Supporters

California ballot initiative Proposition 23 is pitting out-of-state fossil fuel companies against a plethora of people who oppose it, including Bill Gates and Google Inc. co-founder Sergey Brin. Both Gates and Brin have recently contributed to the anti-Proposition 23 campaign.

Add President Obama to the list of those opposed to the proposition. “The president is opposed to Prop. 23 — a veiled attempt by corporate polluters to block progress towards a clean energy economy,” White House spokesman Adam Abrams announced Wednesday. “If passed, the initiative would stifle innovation, investment in R&D and cost jobs for the state of California.”

Joining Obama in opposing Proposition 23 is Al Gore. Last week, Gore urged Californians to vote no on the ballot initiative. Gore said the proposition would “turn the clock back on the climate crisis.”

While it is really no surprise that Obama and Gore are opposed to Proposition 23, it is surprising that Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of State, George Shultz is opposed to it. Shultz wrote in a September op-ed piece that the proposition “seeks to derail our future through a process of indefinite postponement of our state’s clean energy and clean air standards.”

Outgoing California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, spoke very strongly against Proposition 23 last month:

“They are creating a shell argument that they are doing this to protect jobs. Does anybody really believe these companies out of the goodness of their black oil hearts are spending millions and millions of dollars to save jobs?”

“Today, Valero and Tesoro are in a conspiracy. Not in a criminal conspiracy, but a cynical one about self-serving greed. Does anyone think in their black oil company hearts that they want to create jobs?”

“Valero and Tesoro want to stop the movement from old energy to new energy because its means lost market share.”

The Independent Energy Producers Association (IEPA), one of the oldest non-profit trade groups in California, is opposed to Proposition 23. IEPA Executive Director Jan Smutny-Jones said in a statement that the proposition “will undo the remarkable progress green energy generators are making in California – and put thousands of clean energy workers out of work.”

The California Manufacturers and Technology Association (CMTA) supports Proposition 23. CMTA vice-president Dorothy Rothrock recently said in a debate, “They are not oil companies.” Rothrock was speaking of Tesoro and Valero.

California utility Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) Corporation, one of the largest utility companies in the U.S., is against Proposition 23, unlike the two oily Texas companies bankrolling the ballot initiative. Peter Darbee, Chairman and CEO of PG&E said, “Thoughtful and balanced implementation of AB 32 is one of the most important opportunities we have to avoid this costly outcome while spurring new clean-tech investment, innovation and job creation in California.

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