With eager anticipation and just a week to go before the World Series begins, we sit on the edge of our seats watching the buildup. The potential for an epic battle of Texas versus San Francisco and California is huge. With all their shared history of national political influence, and of course, stereotypical cultural differences, the battle couldn’t be more diametrically opposed if they were different countries.
Take, for example, the two states’ views on litter. Back in the early moments of the environmental revolution, California ran an ad campaign with a Native American solemnly shedding a tear witnessing careless litterbugs dropping trash. The state of Texas, knowing full well that that sappy stuff wouldn’t fly with its residents, started the “Don’t Mess With Texas” campaign (yes, it was originally an anti-litter slogan).
Now the two states are set to square off in one of the biggest heavyweight campaigns ever. Yep, that’s right. Cody Ross (above), Tim Lincecum, and their teammates with the San Francisco Giants symbolize clean energy. Tommy Hunter (left) and his Texas Rangers teammates symbolize pollution, oil barons, billionaires, and Proposition 23. Texas oil companies (with additional funding from some oil billionaires whose good-hearted philanthropy includes the “healthy formaldehyde” campaign) have spent millions in an attempt to buy a statewide policy in California that would allow them to pollute the Golden State to their heart’s content. They argue against regulations. They claim it would save jobs. The facts in the case are not on their side, but the money is, and sometimes that’s enough.
Passage of Proposition 23 would mean Texas would win. Their oil companies would be able to pollute without fear of retribution, meaning more money would flow out of Clean Energy, and out of California and into Dirty Energy, and Texas’ coffers. More dirty energy jobs in the oil industry. Smokestacks dominating skylines. Regressive policy inhibiting solar, wind, and geothermal development in favor of more fossil fuels. Defeat of Proposition 23 would mean California would win. More investment in clean energy. More jobs. More startups. Less outside influence in political campaigns.
Is this emblematic of the dichotomy offered politically by these two states? California votes on another Proposition this year that would eliminate Gerrymandering. Texas has perfected it, squeezing the minority party of Democrats there into ever more interesting looking districts.
Proposition 23 would increase gas price volatility, kill clean energy jobs (California’s economic bright spot), cause investors to stop investing, corrupt the democratic process, and make people sick, especially in the poorer communities.
When will Texas stop threatening to secede from the nation? When will they understand that, even in their own state, clean energy makes good business sense? When will they stop “Messing” with other states? When will the leader of the red states finally get with the freaking program?
California’s Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said it well: “They are creating a shell argument that they are doing this to protect jobs,” the governor said. “Does anybody really believe they are doing this out of the goodness of their black oil hearts – spending millions and millions of dollars to save jobs?”
California’s likely next Lieutenant Governor, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, said it just as well in a new ad campaign that is more about Prop 23 than his own campaign: “They say don’t mess with Texas,” Newsom scoffed. “I say this, don’t mess with Californians.”
Scott Cooney is the author of Build a Green Small Business (McGraw-Hill) and Principal of GreenBusinessOwner.com