Prop 23 Would Kill Advanced Biofuel Technology

By: Mary Solecki

Hopefully, you’ve heard lots of buzz about Prop 23 by now, the ballot measure that would effectively repeal California’s landmark clean energy and climate law (AB 32). Voting no on 23 sends a clear message that California does not want to lose its advantage as the country’s cleantech leader.

Across California, companies have been investing and preparing for the cleantech boom created by AB 32, but Prop 23 would stall this growth indefinitely.  Bob Epstein, California entrepreneur and a member of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Board of Trustees recently spoke of the 500,000green jobs and billions of dollars in investment that are at jeopardy.

What’s at stake?

Consider the effect of AB 32 on the budding advanced biofuel industry. Advanced biofuels are a poster child of cleantech benefits: more jobs, lower environmental impacts, lowered demand on foreign oil. The Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) is a component of AB 32 that requires a 10% reduction in the carbon intensity of fuels sold in California by 2020. It is one of many ways California is working towards its aggressive AB 32 goals, including greater fuel efficiency and vehicle electrification (see chart to above and the right):

In order to reach this 10% reduction in carbon intensity, fuel distributors will blend biofuels into standard fuels, creating a large, guaranteed market for the fuels with the lowest carbon intensity. California Air Resources Board is developing the LCFS regulation by assigning each fuel a score based on total environmental impacts. The fuel with the lowest score will ‘win’, since it will give blenders the most carbon reduction per gallon. Such a market guarantee results in a windfall of investment in advanced biofuel companies, and correlated job creation. End users will also win, in the form of lower pollutants and increased economic activity.  The LCFS is environmentally sound regulation that has positive economic impacts. Supporting AB 32 supports regulations like the LCFS, and ensures that these biofuel companies continue to grow and operate inside California:

Many of these advanced biofuel companies, including companies like Iogen, Amyris, Codexis, Solazyme, and dozens more, are expanding and in the process of demonstrating their ability to scale production.  The LCFS will result in the creation of 50 to 70 advanced, commercial scale biofuel production facilities. However, Prop 23 would kill the LCFS, along with the positive effects of a growing advanced biofuel industry.

Rather than invest in clean, safe biofuels that will never run out, dirty energy companies like Valero and Tesoro continue to grasp at straws to protect their billions of dollars in profits from fossil fuels. They want to keep us addicted to unsafe fossil fuels, continue polluting the air we breathe, and shut down California’s efforts to move toward a green, stable economy.

The fact is this: Investing in clean energy creates more jobs across the board. A dollar invested in clean energy creates 2.6 times more jobs available to those with a college degree, 3.0 times more jobs usually requiring some higher education, and 3.6 times more jobs available to those with a high-school degree or less than a dollar spent in the fossil fuel industry.

While Prop 23 has devastating effects inside California, the consequences ripple on a national scale.  Both the Northeast and the Northwest are modeling their own LCFS regulations based on California. Without a model to follow, the efforts of other regions will be discouraged and stalled indefinitely.  California needs to lead the nation, and it needs to defeat Prop 23.

More information on the LCFS and advanced biofuels is available on Environmental Entrepreneurs website.  For more news on the “No on 23” campaign, please click here.

You can sign up to be a Clean Energy Leader to receive an online toolkit that will help you take part in volunteer activities for “No on 23” at


Mary Solecki is a graduate of Presidio Graduate School, and works as an environmental consultant, specializing in reporting and communications, marketing, and renewable energy and fuels. She is currently a consultant for Environmental Entrepreneurs, a partner of the Natural Resources Defense Council. She works with the advanced biofuels industry on the Low Carbon Fuel Standard.

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

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3 responses

  1. Yes no body in power likes to give it up. But the power is in the pocket book, and the vote. The truth about CO2 is far different from the wholly untrue “inconvenient truth.” Just how did VP Gore become so wealthy with this?
    Green energy will have its day when it is cost competitive. it has the advantage of not running out so it will have a stable price, that will be cost competitive when technology helps the price drop and non-renewables become scares enough and hard enough to acquire too lose their competitive edge.
    No reason to overspend commercially on technology that is not cost competitive. R & D yes.

    1. The cost competitive argument holds no weight when you examine the ridiculous amount of subsidies received by the fossil fuel sector. Coal and oil receive more subsidies than any other industry besides Big Ag, in which the subsidies go to corn for unreasonable ethanol production. If those subsidies were removed, then the clean tech sector would most definitely be cost competitive, especially considering future value of finite versus infinite feedstock sources. In addition, economic imperialism disallows the inclusion of the opportunity costs of NOT drilling, blasting, mining and burning. So we are not including the public health costs of asthma, for example, caused by the dirty diesel burning (the corridor between the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports have the highest childhood asthma rates in the nation – directly attributed to the trucking industry). So a real cost analysis that takes the systemic effects of fossil fuel use from extraction to combustion into account will show how economically insane our continued reliance on these filthy sources really is.

      Great article, Mary!

  2. The key thing to keep in mind is that, according to CARB, the organization who wrote and will enforce AB32, 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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