“And the losers? The people of California, surely. But the biggest loser will be the planet.”
The Koch brothers are leading the effort to destroy a livable climate and thwart efforts to restore US leadership in what will be the biggest job-creating industry of this century, low-carbon cleantech (see “The dirty oil coalition behind the Proposition 23 effort to stop clean energy just got a lot dirtier“).
The New York Times has a terrific lead editorial on the subject, “The Brothers Koch and AB 32,” which deserves to be widely read:
Four years ago, bipartisan majorities in the California Legislature approved a landmark clean energy bill that many hoped would serve as a template for a national effort to reduce dependence on foreign oil and mitigate the threat of climate change.
Now a well-financed coalition of right-wing ideologues, out-of-state oil and gas companies and climate-change skeptics is seeking to effectively kill that law with an initiative on the November state ballot. The money men include Charles and David Koch, the Kansas oil and gas billionaires who have played a prominent role in financing the Tea Party movement.
The 2006 law, known as AB 32, is aimed at reducing California’s emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020 and by 80 percent at midcentury. To reach these targets, state agencies are drawing up regulations that would affect businesses and consumers across the board “” requiring even cleaner cars, more energy-efficient buildings and appliances, and power plants that use alternative energy sources like wind instead of older fossil fuels.
The prospect that these rules could reduce gasoline consumption strikes terror into some energy companies. A large chunk of the $8.2 million raised in support of the ballot proposition has come from just two Texas-based oil and gas companies, Valero and Tesoro, which have extensive operations in California. The Koch brothers have contributed about $1 million, partly because they worry about damage to the bottom line at Koch Industries, and also because they believe that climate change is a left-wing hoax.
They have argued that the law will lead to higher energy costs and job losses, arguments that resonate with many voters in a state with a 12.4 percent unemployment rate. But this overlooks the enormous increase in investments in clean energy technologies “” and the jobs associated with them “” since the law was passed.
Overturning AB 32 would be another setback in the effort to fight climate change. The United States Senate has already scuttled President Obama’s goal of putting a price on carbon. The Environmental Protection Agency, while important, can only do so much. This leaves state and regional efforts as crucially important drivers “” and if California pulls back, other states like New York that are trying to reduce emissions may do so as well.
The Kochs and their allies are disastrously wrong about the science, which shows that man-made emissions are largely responsible for global warming, and wrong about the economics. AB 32′s many friends “” led by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California “” have therefore mounted a spirited counterattack in defense of the law.
Another respected Republican, George Shultz “” a cabinet member in both the Nixon and Reagan administrations “” has signed on as a co-chairman of this effort. Mr. Shultz credits AB 32 for an unprecedented “outburst” of technological creativity and investment.
Who wins if this law is repudiated? The Koch brothers, maybe, but the biggest winners will be the Chinese, who are already moving briskly ahead in the clean technology race. And the losers? The people of California, surely. But the biggest loser will be the planet.
- George Shultz on Prop 23: “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.”
- New Yorker exposes Koch brothers along with their greenwashing and whitewashing Smithsonian exhibit
Here are five things you can do to win this fight:
- Visit the “No on 23″³ website, learn the facts & sign up: www.StopDirtyEnergyProp.com.
- Educate yourself on how California’s climate & energy laws have created companies & jobs: www.CABrightSpot.com.
- Tell your friends by email, on Facebook, at work, & everywhere else.
- Participate in the debate. Write letters to the editor and post comments on blogs & websites.
- Contribute (click here). The other side’s leader, right-wing California Assemblyman Dan Logue, has publicly said he expects the oil companies to spend $50 million.