As demonstrated by our previous posts about the misleading Prop 23, we take this ballot measure very seriously as it poses a serious threat to the development of clean energy in California (to say nothing about thwarting our efforts to address Climate Change). But that doesn’t mean that we cannot appreciate a more humorous approach to the issue.
Toward that end, please check out the following video:
Please pass this on to all of your friends - this deserves to go viral!
We have been writing for some time about the deceptive Prop 23 campaign that is utilizing tons of out-of-state money to try and roll back California’s landmark law regarding Climate Change, AB 32. Now the Los Angeles Times is reporting that shareholders at these corporations are filing shareholder resolutions challenging the contributions. While the resolutions are being advanced by small shareholders - the Unitarian Church is the source of the resolution directed to Valero’s Board - there is a real chance that larger, institutional investors like the New York City pension fund, might join in and give the resolutions a real shot at passage. Nevertheless, a spokesperson for Valero dismissed the resolution as the work of a “shareholders activist group.”
From a purely corporatist perspective, Valero has a point. After all, spending a few million dollars in a deceptive political campaign - does anyone really believe for an instant that their opposition to AB 32 is out of concern for the potential loss of jobs in California? - is chump change compared to what they would need to do to bring their heavily polluting refineries into compliance with the law.
There are actually two interesting things about this story. The first is that a group of shareholders, small though they are, might spark an uprising to demand that these oil companies actually behave in a way that is not entirely about the immediate bottom line. After all, corporations exist for the benefit of its shareholders and those shareholders are free to redefine that benefit in any (legal) way that they choose. Perhaps a benefit that looks toward the future of a changing climate is one that a corporation’s Board could reasonably pursue.
The second interesting part of the story is how large institutional investors are set to come out in opposition to Prop 23. From the article:
The announcement marks the beginning of a concerted campaign by a group of large investors to defeat Proposition 23 and preserve the California law cutting industrial and vehicle emissions. Next week, several large investment firms — including one of the world’s largest, Deutsche Asset Management — are expected to formally announce opposition to Proposition 23.
“If Prop. 23 passes, it would be a considerable setback for renewable energy investment in the U.S.,” said Mayura Hooper, a spokesman for Deutsche Asset Management. “Investors require consistent and long-term policies, and if a leader like California suspends its regulatory framework for climate change, there is a high risk that other states will follow.”
So it isn’t just the “enviro-wackos” (as some would label us) who oppose Prop 23 - it is also the investment funds that have historically driven a great deal of new, hi-tech business growth in this traditionally cutting-edge State. Of course, what the hi-tech investors fear - that if California falls back, so will others - is just what the fossil fuel industry is hoping will occur. But they aren’t just hoping - they are pouring their shareholders’ money into the fray.
High time that some of those shareholders say, “Not so fast.”
The first day of the 10th Annual Solar Power International Conference is in the books and after an exhausting day of walking the exhibit floor (all three of them!) I am left with an overwhelming impression - renewable energy in general and solar power in particular constitute the wave of the future and that wave is breaking now! But please take note - our friends in Asia, especially China and Korea, already get this big time. The number of solar panel manufacturers present here from Asia is nothing short of astounding. While I have no idea who is buying their product (with the exception of world-class producers like Suntech), it is apparent that other countries, especially China, are invested heavily in their solar industry for both domestic and foreign consumption.
Which got me thinking. Solar advocates and other environmentally enlightened folks tout the clean-tech jobs that derive from the solar industry - whether by way of installation or manufacturing. Yet those manufacturing jobs are facing a constant threat from thoroughly engaged foreign competitors - as was amply demonstrated today - who receive serious subsidies from governments that are not at all confused about where their long-term interest lies. And while it is true that the installation jobs cannot be outsourced, they could certainly be reduced or eliminated by the adoption of short-sighted policies like Prop 23.
Attending a conference like SPI is always exciting as you meet your colleagues from around the world who share your vision and your passion. But progress is not guaranteed. It requires sound public policy that will support this industry, even in the face of an economic downturn. Our competitors are building for the future - let’s not let some out-of-state special interests who make their money off our addiction to fossil fuels drag us back into the economy of the past.
I’ve said it before and for the next three weeks I’ll keep saying it:
Vote No on Prop 23!
We have written about the deceptive Prop 23 campaign before; it is the November ballet initiative that seeks to roll back California’s landmark legislation (AB 32) that is driving the development of the renewable energy industry here in the Golden State.
Those of us old enough to remember Watergate remember the admonition: “Follow the Money!” In keeping with that directive, we thought you would be interested to see the latest campaign spending reports from the pro-Prop 23 campaign. Here are the numbers:
Total Contributions to date: $8,910,308.25
Contributions from oil interests: $8,640,268.20 (97%)
Contributions from out of state: $7,965,268.20 (89%)
Valero, Tesoro & Koch Industries: $6,606,273.20 (74%)
Valero = $4,065,636.60
Tesoro = $1,540,636.60
Koch = $1,000,000.00
Out-of-state oil companies and other polluters have contributed nearly $9 million to increase our dependence on fossil fuels - the path backwards, not the way toward progress.
So don’t be fooled - Prop 23 has nothing to do with preserving jobs, and everything to do with preserving the profits of out-of-state oil interests.
Please, vote No on Prop 23!
If a ballot initiative is known by the company it keeps, we should be just a teeny bit suspicious of Proposition 23, the Nov. 2 measure designed to eviscerate California’s new greenhouse gas regulation. The driving force behind the initiative is the oil industry, which has contributed more than $2.3 million to getting it passed. The biggest single contributor is San Antonio-based Valero Energy ($1.05 million, according to the latest state campaign disclosures), with San Antonio-based Tesoro Corp.in second place with $525,000.
So begins the latest piece from Michael Hiltzik at the LA Times and he is, once again, on to something. Just as with Prop 16 - the misleadingly labeled “Taxpayers Right to Vote Act” that was actually the “Protect Pacific Gas & Electric’s Monopoly” measure, Hiltzik reveals who is behind Prop 23 and explains why their motives might not be consistent with their rhetoric.
As folks who read this blog surely know, AB 32 is the California law that seeks to reduce our contribution to greenhouse gas emissions while making the state more attractive to green businesses (like this one) that represent the state’s economic future. Given that transportation is the single largest source of GHG emissions in the state, it is not surprising that oil companies might be concerned about a requirement to substantially reduce those emissions. Now the Texas oil companies seeking to block AB 32 may not be interested in hastening the emergence of a renewable, non-fossil-fuel based economy, but surely the rest of us are. Hopefully the voters will see through the deception and reject Prop 23, just as they rejected Prop 16 last month.
If you needed any more incentive than you already had, perhaps this will help. Today the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA) released a study of world-wide climate data and concluded that “Global warming is undeniable.” Analyzing data collected in 48 countries by more than 300 scientists, the NOAA report - titled State of the Climate in 2009 - concluded that “the past decade was the warmest on record and that the Earth has been growing warmer over the last 50 years.”
Apart from the climate change implications of implementing AB 32, it should be remembered that burning fossil fuels - particularly the gasoline peddled by those Texas oil companies - contributes to the creation of smog here in the LA Basin. Cutting back on those emissions will make all of us healthier, particularly those with asthma and other respiratory conditions. Indeed, when I was a child growing up in Alhambra during the 60’s, after lunchtime recess my classmates and I would come back to the classroom and cough repeatedly - such was the state of the air that I was breathing as a boy. We should not forget that the tremendous improvements in air quality here in LA came over the objections of the very same interests that now tell us we cannot afford to implement AB 32.
But they were wrong 40 years ago, just as they are certainly wrong now.