This November, private interests could take our environment hostage. Will you let them?
Proposition 23 is arguably the biggest environmental battle this country has ever seen. While we have come a long way from steam power and coal furnaces, California is the nation’s leader in the energy technology of our future, and we need to protect our renewable energy industry and the environment.
Two Texas oil companies, Valero and Tesoro, are significantly funding this dirty energy proposition to loosen restrictions on energy emissions allowing them to make more money and pollute our air without limits.
According to the state attorney general’s Web site, Proposition 23 will suspend state law AB 32, which requires greenhouse gas emissions be reduced to 1990 levels by 2020, until California’s unemployment drops to 5.5 percent or less for four consecutive quarters.
It also will suspend a comprehensive greenhouse-gas-reduction program that includes increased renewable energy and cleaner fuel requirements, and mandatory emissions reporting and fee requirements for major emissions sources such as power plants and oil refineries.
Interestingly, both Republican and Democratic candidates, Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown, are listed under the “coalitions” tab of the “No on 23” Web site as individuals opposed to this proposition. If the future governor of our state does not want this proposition to be written into law, how can we ignore this bipartisan effort to stop the dirty energy prop.?
The results of this proposition passing would be increased air pollution from greenhouse gases and oil emissions. It would also cripple our clean energy industry and reduce California’s edge as a national leader in green technology. According to the Renewable Energy Policy Network, “renewable energy installations outpaced fossil fuel installations in 2009 in both Europe and the U.S.” Their study indicated that the renewable energy sector is actually helping reduce the unemployment rate in California by providing more jobs than the oil industry.
The above language of the proposition and study begs the question: Why is unemployment linked to the suspension of a law that cuts down on the amount pollutions from gasoline and other sources of greenhouse gases, especially given the fact that the renewable energy sector has been creating jobs over time?
The short answer to this question is that private interests are more interested in money than our environmental and clean energy future. To protect their own bottom line, these Texas oil companies have been spreading campaign ads to deceive voters about the harm that will be caused if Prop. 23 is allowed to pass. Their arguments have been criticized by the Air and Resources Board as “flawed conclusions from a discredited study that has been roundly criticized by reputable economists.”
So what can we do?
There are many answers to that question, but first and foremost, register to vote and vote “no” on 23 on Nov. 2. Students and young voters have consistently been ignored by politicians and it is time for us to take a stand in solidarity against this dirty energy proposition.
If you are unconvinced by the arguments above or simply want to learn more about this issue, come to Environmental Affairs Board’s Fall Convergence from Oct. 15-17 here at UCSB. The California Student Sustainability Coalition holds a biannual convergence to discuss issues relevant to students and the environment. To learn more go to www.as.ucsb.edu/eab.
Finally, if you are as upset as I am that corporations are trying to take over our system of direct creation of democratic legislation, join us in protest this Friday, Oct. 8. CALPIRG, Green Corps and other environmentally conscious groups on campus and within the Santa Barbara community will be riding en masse to a local Valero station to protest Prop. 23 and tell voters to vote “no” on Prop. 23 Nov. 2. Join us at 4 p.m. at Pardall Tunnel and be sure to bring your bike and your voice.
For more information on Prop. 23 and other election issues this fall visit www.calpirgstudents.org/ucsb.