Clean Energy Investors, Google Fight Prop. 23

The battle for the future of California’s landmark climate legislation, AB32, is heating up, with clean energy investors and venture capital stepping in to combat this November’s Proposition 23 ballot initiative.

Proposition 23, whose primary backers include oil companies Valero and Tesoro (and now, the Adam Smith Foundation of Jefferson City, MO,) aims to “suspend” AB32 by making enaction contingent on a sustained and unrealistic 5.5% unemployment rate in California. Currently the rate is somewhere north of 12%.

There’s big money behind the effort to derail California’s climate bill, and a lot of it comes from out of state.   But now there’s big money on the other side too, and big names…and they are from California.

Tom Steyer, founder of San Francisco-based hedge fund Farallon Capital Management LLC, has given $2.5 million to support a No on 23 marketing campaign, and promised another $2.5 million to come.   “Proposition 23 is designed to derail a green technology revolution that we are in the early innings of and that is the engine for California’s growth,” Steyer said in an interview.  Steyer and his wife donated about $40 million to fund renewable energy research at Stanford University last year.

Internet giant Google, a strong supporter of renewable energy generation, especially wind power, recently co-hosted a forum with the Silicon Valley Leadership Group to discuss the future of clean energy in California.   Speakers came out strongly in favor of AB32 and against Proposition 23, saying the future of green jobs and investments in California’s struggling economy are at stake.

  • “We’re strongly behind the No on 23 campaign,” Bill Weihl, Google’s “green energy czar” (Winner: coolest job title ever).
  • Carl Gardino, Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s CEO: “If we don’t go forward with 33 percent renewable standard for California’s energy supply, we undercut all those companies and entrepreneurs creating jobs in solar, wind, biofuels and other renewable forms of energy.” Guardino’s organization represents more than 300 California companies that oppose Proposition 23.
  • Venture capitalist, Vinod Khosla:  “Prop 23 will kill the market and the single largest source of job creation in California in the last two years.”  Khosla’s company, Khosla Ventures, put together more than $1 billion for renewable energy and clean tech investments last fall.

And Proposition 23 isn’t the only front in the battle over AB32 this fall.  While Democratic candidate Jerry Brown has embraced the clean energy sector, making support of AB32 a cornerstone of his campaign, republican Meg Whitman has pledged to suspend AB32 for at least one year, pending federal action.

Now that both sides of Proposition 23 have strong financial backing, the playing field has leveled out.   There will be a big, expensive fight for our votes this Fall, with the outcome no less than the future of California’s green economy.


Dan Heffernan lives and works in San Francisco and is a renowned political news junkie. Check out his heavily biased political blog

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10 responses

  1. The California Jobs Initiative (CJI) is an oil corporation frace and fraud. 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 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. Both Valero and Tesoro are super Enrons.

  2. Proposition 23 will suspend implementation of AB 32, the carbon footprint control bill, A.K.A.The Global Warming Solutions Act. This writer recommends a yes vote on Proposition 23.

    AB 32 will have drastic economic effects on California, if it goes into effect. It will trigger two major waves of business flight and unemployment.

    The initial wave will occur after implementation and many businesses learn they can no longer compete under the new regulations. This will include nearly every industry that is a major emitter of CO2. They will move their businesses and jobs to states like Nevada, or overseas. As AB 32 controls are ratcheted up with time, this migration will continue to spiral. Major dislocations will occur in the state business structure as these businesses leave. Jobs will leave with them, further depressing the housing market, and further reducing tax revenue for the state, cities, and counties.

    AB32 has already attracted rich investors and big companies who sense an opportunity to make a buck at the public’s expense in higher taxes, higher prices, subsidies, regulatory requirements and cap and trade Often this will include soaking the public for green gadgetry (e.g., windmills) that would have no market at all if it were not for carbon footprint requirements of AB 32. Some of the big companies that are out for cap and trade dollars from the public are General Electric, Pacific Gas and Electric, Duke Power, Chevron, BP, Hewlett-Packard, Goldman Sachs, and hundreds of others.

    The second wave of business flight, bankruptcies, and unemployment will occur when the public realizes that they have been made the victims of a massive scam, based on the man-made global warming theory, a theory which has no validity. They will realize this when the full wet blanket of AB 32 tyranny pushes California into the purgatory of socialism-light: high taxes, in-your-face regulations, greeny police carbon-footprint monitoring, cap and trade thievery, more costly vehicles, high electric power costs, and high gasoline costs. This second wave of failures will consist of so-called green endeavors that cannot stand on their own two feet. At this point any remaining public support for AB 32 will collapse and to quote a biblical saying, there will be the weeping and gnashing of teeth.

    These two waves of unemployment will push the state much farther into a situation like the 1930s depression, if not far worse.

    Climategate disclosed major fraud and chicanery among the federal agencies and university elitists in promoting the CO2 scam. This included literally twisting of the climatic database to make it conform to their favorite theory. Many investigations before and since have confirmed that CO2 has not an will not cause global warming. AB 32 represents the greatest piece of foolish legislation from Sacramento since it tried to “fix” the electric power system and gave us blackouts instead.

    The most egregious aspect of AB 32 is that the CARB administrator admits that AB 32 will have no effect on atmospheric CO2 concentration, and no effect on atmospheric temperature. AB 32 is thus nothing but a publicity stunt by the legislature and the governor, to enable them to brag that California is a leader in “clean energy”, whereas it will actually be a national leader in arriving at a state-wide poverty level with a broken economy and no hope of recovery.

    AB 32 is a false god. Proposition 23 will save the state from the massive economic disruption described above, although green industries that cannot stand on their own feet will fail. Best to move these businesses and their jobs into production that fits into the economy.

    While Proposition 23 only suspends AB 32, there are other California laws, regulations, and gubernatorial edicts that are based on the CO2 scam and should also be abandoned in the dustbin of really bad legislative mistakes.

    1. Californians paid the highest price for gasoline in the nation, and there is no oil extraction tax. This the reason why businesses are leaving California, not taxes. Texas and Alaska have an oil extraction tax, and gasoline is cheaper in those two states.

  3. I might suggest that if you see ads for Meg Whitman on the web, go ahead and click on them. It’ll give Google some of Princess/Queen Meg’s money, so that Google can use it to fight for clean energy and good jobs for California.

    Take money away from evil and put it towards good. I like that.

  4. I wonder why California has no oil extraction tax,it seems like a good idea. I also like Megs idea of going slow even if I don’t always agree with her. There are no easy answers and I don’t think we should jump at the first one we see. Think Freakonomics, and beware of VCs worrying about their IPOs

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  7. 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.

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