Investors Nervous About Proposition 23

Investors are nervous about California’s ballot initiative Proposition 23, which would overturn the state’s landmark Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 or AB 32. Last week, 23 investors announced that they filed shareholder resolutions with oil companies Occidental Petroleum, Valero Energy Corp. and Tesoro Corp. All three of the oil companies have funded Proposition 23. The shareholder resolutions request Board reviews and oversight of the companies’ political contributions and policies.

Valero and Tesoro have spent $4 million and $1.5 million on Proposition 23, while Occidental spent $300,000. Investors who filed shareholder resolutions include Nathan Cummings Foundation, Green Century Capital Management, Investor Network on Climate Risk, and Walden Asset Management.

Laura Campos, Director of Shareholder Activities at the Nathan Cummings Foundation, said that shareholders are “concerned Tesoro’s support for the highly controversial Proposition 23 could lead to a decrease in shareholder value by damaging the company’s reputation and negatively impacting the business environment in a state where Tesoro has significant operations.”

“Climate change is a serious threat to our planet and economy. We are concerned that Prop 23 will remove important market signals necessary to transition to cleaner business practices,” said Larisa Ruoff, Director of Shareholder Advocacy for Green Century Capital Management.

“That Valero and the other companies are using company money for such overt political purposes is both inappropriate and reflects poor governance,” said Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres and Director of the Investor Network on Climate Risk.

“These three companies ought to conduct a thorough board-level review of their political expenditures and their decision-making process for political spending and report to shareholders,” said Tim Smith, senior vice president at Walden Asset Management.

Investors issue statement urging voters to reject Proposition 23

This week 68 investors who collectively manage $415 trillion in assets issued a statement urging voters to reject Proposition 23. The signers of the statement include Catholic Health Care West and VantagePoint Venture Partners, both California-based firms. In total 18 California-based firms signed the statement.

“As investors, we need certainty about the policies that govern the sectors in which we invest so that we can make strategic, profitable investments over the long term,” the statement declared. “This policy certainty, however, would be eliminated if Proposition 23 passes….(it) would cause California to lose billions of dollars of investment and thousands of jobs to competitors like China, Japan, Germany, or other U.S. states that have more stable commitments to clean energy policy.”

The statement said that if Proposition 23 passes, California’s “role as a national clean energy leader” would be undermined. In turn, passage of the ballot initiative might end up leading “to the rollback of environmental protection mechanisms in other states that look to California as a model for environmental policy — further harming our clean tech industries.”

The statement went on to say that Proposition 23 “could in turn delay our entire nation’s transition to cleaner energy and greater energy independence, all while sending a negative message to the rest of the world about America’s leadership in clean energy technologies.”

The Proposition 23 Series will continue through the election.

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

5 responses

  1. 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, Tesoro amd 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? Occidental, Shell, Exxon Mobil, BP and Chevron are silent partners in CJI.

  2. Google convened a good meeting of technology companies and venture capital firms to talk about prop 23 from the technology and jobs perspective. See:

    It’s also important to pay attention to prop 26, which will be used to gut AB32. Prop 23 big oil supporters are seeing prop 23 as a lost cause and shifting over to prop 26. Clean renewable energy advocates fear it could gut programs they hold dear, and restrict the state from raising money needed to implement AB 32.

    Jay Kimball
    8020 Vision

    1. Prop 26 is just as damaging as Prop 23. Prop 26 is a treacherous, Big Oil rip-off, which “passes the buck” from oil corporation clean-up fees to the public’s taxes, who will be paying for the oil recycling fees and the materials hazards fees. If you do not understand the intrigues behind Prop 26, then, vote no.

  3. Yet another propaganda piece. I call it propaganda because you are not covering both sides here. The job and economic numbers fall HEAVILY AGAINST AB 32.

    The “green jobs, which include the trash man and bicycle shop employers, among other “stretch” jobs, as well as the investment and revenue numbers, are but a fraction of what we will lose if AB 32 is implemented.

    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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