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Annie Notthoff’s Blog

Today Earth Day is Family Day for Me

Annie Notthoff

Posted April 22, 2010 in Curbing Pollution, Living Sustainably, Solving Global Warming

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This morning on my way to work in San Francisco, I joined 50 other people on a street corner in Oakland, just around the corner from where both my mother and father grew up and down the street from where both my children were born. So it was a bit of old home week for me. As a fifth generation Californian I’ve always been proud of the way our state has been on the cutting edge of pragmatic and effective environmental policy, but its citizens are facing a dire threat on Earth Day, 2010:  an assault by Texas oil refiners on AB 32, the state’s clean energy law.

Valero Energy Corp. and a consortium of Texas-based refiners have pumped more than $2 million into a signature-gathering campaign to place an initiative on the November ballot that would delay or prevent full implementation of AB 32.  This landmark legislation is creating thousands of new jobs and stimulating new technologies in the emerging clean energy sector while simultaneously cutting emissions of greenhouse gases.

Valero’s campaign – cynically and inaccurately tagged the California Jobs Initiative -- is a bald-faced ploy to maximize petroleum industry profits by scotching the drive toward cleaner, greener fuels.  But Californians are not fooled:  they have responded to this stealth campaign by Oil Patch bigwigs with outrage.  Earth Day protests were held at Valero gas stations in Oakland, Sacramento, San Diego, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara.  And this is just the beginning.  Clean energy advocates will continue this fight to Election Day.

Make no mistake-- there is no bigger threat to economic growth, job creation and clean air than this effort by Texas oil companies to kill AB 32, our roadmap to a clean energy future. Californians know they can have both a thriving economy and a healthy environment. The protests we saw on Earth Day are telling the company they can’t sneak this ‘Dirty Energy Initiative’ through.  We’re ready and eager for battle – and when we get through with these carpet baggers, they’re going to wish they’d stayed in Texas and concentrated on their barbecue recipes.

According to a recent Field Poll, support for AB 32 remains strong, with 58 percent of residents backing the legislation. Many of the state’s major newspapers – including the San Jose Mercury News, the Sacramento Bee and the Santa Rosa Press Democrat – already have run editorials blasting the Valero initiative.   There’s a very good reason for this: Valero has a long and lamentable record of pursuing short-term profits over the public good.  The Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts deemed the firm one of the worst polluters in the United States, and in 2005 the company was hit with $711 million in fines by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Contrary to Valero’s invidious claims, AB 32 is a boon to California.  According to a recent University of California analysis, the legislation will create about 112,000 new jobs and generate $20 billion for the state’s economy.  Additionally, the bill sets the standard for the nation in reducing harmful carbon emissions and puts California at the vanguard of energy research and development. AB 32 points the way to the technology we’ll need to meet 21st Century economic and environmental challenges. Valero’s initiative does just the opposite, harkening to bankrupt technologies, shrinking job and energy sectors and a polluted planet.  We’re getting the word out—don’t sign this initiative. It’s a stalking horse for Big Oil and expensive, dirty energy.  If it does get on the ballot, don’t vote for it

*Photo credit: Natural Resources Defense Council

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Comments

Kevin RiceApr 22 2010 10:39 PM

Not only am I signing and collecting signatures for this petition, I am voting for it as well.

I am not "Big Oil". I am a Californian.

Enough eco-religious enviro-whactivism. It's cost billions already. The reasonable balance point has been exceeded with AB32, and it will be suspended.

Valero CustomerApr 28 2010 06:56 PM

Personally, I don't understand why environmentalist are so against giving the people of California a chance to vote? Almost seems like you are afraid of democracy. If the people of California want to delay this bill due to the economy, what's wrong with listening to the will of the people?

It is interesting that Valero is being called a “big oil company.” Last I checked, Valero has never produced a single drop of oil. All of the oil that they process in their refineries is purchased from other companies. The public is mistaken when they think that a refining company is the same as “big oil.” Labeling Valero as big oil is just a ploy to scare the public.

Another argument that people are getting excited about is that a Texas company is getting involved in California issues. Valero and Tesoro produce at least 30% of California’s gasoline. Who cares where their company headquarters are, they do business in California. Does the reverse logic apply? Do they argue that they don’t need to obey California rules and regulations because their main offices are in Texas? Absolutely not.

California gasoline is already more expensive than almost everywhere else in the country because of tighter California regulations and anybody who thinks that adding regulation on CO2 should not increase the price at the pump is living in a dream. With unemployment at over 12%, California has one of America’s highest unemployment rates. California also suffers beyond many states due to its punitive sales and income taxes, bloated unionized bureaucracy, chronic illegal immigration and gratuitous environmental laws. In economic recession, California has seen an unprecedented exodus of people and businesses who can no longer prosper in the once “Golden State.”

Before the economic downturn, Californians naively approved the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (Assembly Bill 32) that mandates 2012 reductions of greenhouse gases through carbon taxes, alternative fuels and renewable replacements. All new climate laws increase the unit production costs and corresponding consumer prices of goods and services. A study by the Governor’s Small Business Advocate reports that small businesses pay more than $134,000 each in annual California regulatory costs. Estimates are that the total cost of California regulations is about $493 billion annually – the equivalent of 3.8 million jobs. Environmental regulatory costs are a significant embedded cost in all of California’s products, services and enterprise.

California voters can stop climate laws like the California Global Warming Solutions Act (A.B. 32), if State Assemblyman Dan Logue succeeds in collecting signatures for a November 2010 ballot initiative. Simply put, Logue’s initiative would block implementation of A.B. 32 until the state’s unemployment rate is reduced to below 5.5%. As a Central Valley Republican, Logue estimates that A.B. 32 could cost the state an additional 1million in job losses with its cap-and –trade system to reduce greenhouse gases to 1990 levels.

What is clear in California, and globally, given recent climate frauds, is that partisan ideologies and cultish environmentalism have replaced prudent science and economic realities in climate policy. What is also clear is that environmentalism no longer offers any product or service in support of our future security and prosperity. Militant environmentalism and green-obsessed bureaucrats have become an “axis of antagonism” that we can no longer afford.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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