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Jonathan Kim

Jonathan Kim

Posted: March 4, 2010 04:55 PM

Exposed: Texas Big Oil Funding Petition to Kill California's Anti-Pollution Legislation

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Stealthily and without fanfare, a petition has been launched to get a measure on the November ballot suspending AB 32, California's landmark legislation to limit greenhouse gas emissions and spur green job growth. So who is funding the signature drive? None other than San Antonio-based oil refiners Valero Energy Corp. and Tesoro Corp. -- the #7 and #8 biggest polluters in California. From the LA Times:

Two Texas-based refinery giants have pledged as much as $2 million to fund signature gathering for a ballot initiative to suspend California's landmark global warming law [AB 32], according to Sacramento sources.


The companies, Valero Energy Corp. and Tesoro Corp., own refineries in California that would be forced under the law to slash emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.


But neither Valero or Tesoro is owning up to it.
A Tesoro spokesman did not respond to inquiries. But the company's website invites visitors to lobby Congress to ensure "fair" climate legislation and fight any effort by the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.


Bill Day, a Valero spokesman, declined to confirm or deny the company's involvement, saying that "any contributions would come out in normal disclosures" under California's campaign laws.


And neither is Dan Logue (R-Marysville), one of the initiative's main sponsors. From NYTimes:

Dan Logue, the Republican assemblyman behind the suspension, also refused to discuss where funds had originated.


So forget about the astroturf groups claiming the movement to kill AB 32 is a bunch of small local businesses worried about their survival in a tough economy. The mask is off the anti-AB 32 movement, and behind it is exactly what we thought we would find: big oil, big pollution, big corporations and the corporatist Republicans who love them. That's why Logue, Valero and Tesoro refuse to admit where the money for the ballot initiative is coming from, even if it means possibly violating California Fair Political Practices Committee regulations. The fact that Texas Big Oil is funding an initiative to keep California's air dirty and kill its burgeoning green economy is a PR nightmare.

So let's have no more illusions about what the move to kill AB 32 is all about.

Killing AB 32 is not about job creation or lowering unemployment. Valero and Tesoro don't care about creating jobs or lowering unemployment in a state over 1,000 miles away from them since that won't increase their profits. If they did care about job creation, they would be supporting AB 32 since California's clean/green economy is creating jobs at a rate 2.5 times faster than the rest of the economy while attracting billions in venture capital investment, including an announcement this week that Kyocera will be opening a plant in San Diego to manufacture solar modules. Besides, the Varshney/Tootelian report that AB 32 opponents often cite to prove that AB 32 will kill jobs and hurt the economy has been exposed by numerous economists, the Union of Concerned Scientists and the California Budget Project as being fatally, almost cartoonishly flawed, with one pair of economists calling it "one of the worst examples of schlock science we've ever seen." Even Sanjay Varshney, one of the report's co-authors, admitted that the report is "not exhaustive" and now seems to be backing away from its conclusions.

The move to kill AB 32 is about even more astronomical profits for Big Oil, regardless of whom or what it harms. Valero and Tesoro don't care that hundreds of Californians die every year from respiratory illnesses aggravated by pollution, or that the adverse health effects of pollution disproportionately fall on minorities. They don't care that the top four most polluted cities in the country are in California or that Californians breath some of the dirtiest air in America, with 95% of Californians living in areas with unhealthy air.

In fact, Valero and Tesoro want California's air to become even more dirty and dangerous because they profit from pollution. Instead of being ethical and responsible and cleaning up their own mess, they can make even more by "socializing" and externalizing the cost of pollution -- making Californians pay for it in the form of taxpayer-funded environmental cleanups, increased medical bills and lost work days stemming from pollution-related illness, and premature death. Tesoro claims it wants "fair" climate legislation when the most "fair" thing they could do is to clean up their own pollution instead of making others deal with it. And while they adamantly oppose any legislation that puts a price on carbon, the truth is that Valero and Tesoro know that carbon already has a price -- the extra profits they make by not cleaning up the carbon pollution they generate.

Call Valero at (210) 345-2000 and/or email Tesoro and tell them what you think of what they're doing. They'll try to redirect you to a PR firm, but be insistent. And if anything, tell them that you and all of your friends will never, ever buy their gas again.

We've already had out-of-state interests stick their nose in to tell Californians who we can marry. Let's make sure out-of-state Big Oil doesn't dictate what kind of air we're forced breath.

 

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