Prop 23: An Oily Blot on the California Ballot

11/01/2010 05:53 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Mindy Pennybacker Author, 'Do One Green Thing: Saving the Earth Through Simple, Everyday Choices'

I confess, I'm a Hawaii resident, but if I could, I'd cast an out-of-state vote against California's Prop 23, which is promulgated by out-of-state interests -- namely, a couple of Texas oil refining companies and Koch Industries, a Kansas energy conglomerate. Prop 23 aims to stop implementation of California's Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32) in its tracks and paralyze the green tech industry that brought $2.1 billion in investment to the state last year.

The first state law of its kind, AB 32 is more important than ever since Congress failed to deliver even the most tepid of laws capping global warming emissions. California's law mandates the reduction of greenhouse gas levels to 1990 levels by 2020 -- by a government that's the 12th greatest producer of greenhouse gas emissions in the world.

Misleadingly promoted as the "California Jobs Initiative," Prop 23 could result in the loss of hundreds of thousands of green jobs. Yes, there's some gobbledygook about how AB 32 will only be "suspended" until California's unemployment rate (now > 12%) descends to under 5.5% and stays there for four consecutive quarters. How this will happen by killing California's green tech industry and encouraging investment in its fast-forward competitor, China, is not explained.

In addition, Prop 23 proponents flaunt their fossil fuel bias by slamming renewable energy, hysterically and inaccurately claiming that the growth of solar, wind, and other sources will raise rates sky high. In actuality, studies show that California households will reap significant savings from higher energy efficiency and vehicle mileage requirements.

This California vote matters for all of us in so many ways. The nation's most populous state and largest consumer, as well as our main food producer, California has historically been a leader in environmental protection, from clean air quality to bans on toxic chemicals like the drycleaning solvent perchloroethylene and brominated fire retardants in mattresses. Because it's also the world's 8th largest economy, its rules are highly influential. Hawaii modeled its 2007 climate law on AB 32. If the latter is rolled back, ours may be next. As a surfer, I'm anxious to see Hawaii reduce demand for fossil fuels. Currently, we import more than 90% of our energy, and 76% of it comes from burning oil. That's not including the gasoline brought in by ship, emitting CO2 all across the ocean, to fuel our vehicles. and our offshore environment is vulnerable to oil spills as devastating as last summer's in the Gulf.

But enough from me, already. Read this appeal from a young staffer at EDF in San Francisco.Both Robert Redford and George Schulz, former Secretary of State, oppose Prop 23. Please ask your California friends to join them and vote no on 23, and to tell their friends, too.