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Why Californians Must Crush Prop 23

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By now most people are aware of Proposition 23, called the "California Jobs Initiative" by its oil-slick proponents, despite the fact that it would reduce state revenue and stall the growing clean energy job sector. It has become a lightning rod of debate about the clean energy and air future of not just California, but of the nation. The proposition would suspend California's landmark greenhouse emission reduction law AB 32 (Global Warming Solutions Act), one of the most ambitious in the world. Proposition 23 would suspend implementing the law until unemployment in the California reaches 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters.

That's a pretty good way of saying, "Kill our clean air, clean energy and green jobs."

Opponents have dubbed it the "Dirty Energy Proposition" because both Texas Oil companies and the billionaire Koch brothers have chipped in most of the millions behind this attempt to kill clean energy investments and green jobs creation in California. According to the New York Times, pro-Prop 23 advocates have given $8.2 million so far, with almost all of it ($7.9 million) of that coming from out-of-state oil companies like Tesoro and Valero.

The New York Times called it a showdown, saying that it has "jolted environmental leaders who are worried that a vote against the law in this state -- with its long history of environmental activism -- would amount to a powerful setback for emission control efforts in Washington and statehouses across the country."

Indeed, it is a showdown, one between Big Oil and out-of-state billionaires and almost everybody else, including health experts, community leaders, consumer groups, business leaders, Democrats (including Jerry Brown), Republicans (including Schwarzenegger), Greens (including Laura Wells), seniors groups, city councils, mayors, firefighters, police officers, unions, teachers, students, churches, and regular citizens all across California.

And we all should be jolted. Here are the 5 top reasons why Californians must crush Prop. 23:

1. Prop 23 is a fraud perpetrated on the people of California by out-of-state oil companies and right-wing billionaires who want to line their pockets while they kill our clean energy future. That's not hyperbole, that's the game. Texas oil knows what's at stake so they are pulling no punches and letting the money pour in about as fast as the Deep Horizon leak. It's no surprise that fossil-fuel industries see efforts to clean up our air and energy supplies as a threat to their bank accounts. Our ballot initiative process was meant to give ordinary citizens a voice in decisions affecting everybody. Are we going to allow out-of-state interests manipulate us?

2. Prop 23 is an insult to the intelligence of the people of California. Every aspect of Prop 23, from its name "Jobs Initiative" to the language in the proposition itself, assumes Californians are simpletons who accept the most basic lie as fact and expects us to accept that they really have our interests at heart. Who among us really thinks that out-of-state oil companies have a real interest in creating jobs for Californians?

Which leads us to reason number 3.

3. Despite its Orwellian name, Prop 23 is a job killer. It has already been shown repeatedly that green jobs and clean tech sector have grown at a significantly higher rate than other jobs and AB 32 is not linked at all to job loss or the unemployment rate. If Prop 23 passes and AB 32 is suspended, investments, loans, and jobs in clean energy will shrink dramatically. Unless you think that building an economy based on oil-spill clean-up and doctors treating asthma is the way of the future, then it's time to expose this one. The supporters are relying on a climate of fear around jobs to push this through.

4. Prop 23 is a threat to state and national security. Just ask former U.S. Secretary of State during the Reagan administration George Schultz. Schultz came out swinging with an editorial in the Sacramento Bee. He says, "Those who wish to repeal our state's clean energy laws through postponement to some fictitious future are running up the white flag of surrender to a polluted environment."

It is not that often a former ranking GOP official and Democrats and Greens sing in harmony. This measure indeed is making for strange bedfellows, with the likes of Van Jones and Schwarzenegger on the same side. But on Prop 23 they have united with the message: clean energy, clean air, emissions reductions, green economy are all paving the path of a more secure future.

5. Finally, Prop 23 would limit Californian's opportunity to be global leader on emissions reductions, clean energy, and energy conservation. Historically, California has often been visionary in its environmental protections and programs. Sometimes we forget that we live in the 7th largest economy in the world and we forget that other states, indeed, other countries, often take cues from us.

All this leads us to the conclusion: in November we all have to come out in force and vote no on the Dirty Energy Proposition 23. And we must not just beat Prop 23, we must pulverize it like the dust beneath our feet. A mere 51% margin will suffice, but I say let's beat it by 75% or higher to send the message that Californians are serious about conservation, clean energy, health, and a clean energy economy.