Koch-funded Prop 23 study draws oily conclusions

CAPAF’s Rebecca Lefton dismantles another effort by the polluter-backed disinformers to muddy oil the waters of the clean energy and climate debate.

A new study by Benjamin Zycher, senior fellow at the Koch-funded Pacific Research Institute, examines the historical relationship between employment and energy consumption in California.

It concludes that “the approval of Proposition 23 “¦ would add nearly 150,000 jobs in California in 2011, more than a half million jobs by 2012, and more than 1.3 million jobs by 2020.”  Before anyone gets blown away, remember lesson #1 of Intro to Statistics:  correlation does not equal causation.  Zycher notes this himself.

“The correlations by themselves are not evidence of causation, the determination of which requires application (and statistical testing) of a conceptual framework. But the data displayed in Figure 1 make it reasonable to hypothesize that implementation of AB 32″”a tax on energy use””would reduce employment by increasing the cost of energy.”

Nonetheless, Zycher still draws the conclusion that “suspension of AB32 would yield increases in aggregate California employment, relative to the case with implementation of AB 32, of a bit less than 150,000 in 2011, rising to more than a half million in 2012, and about 1.3 million in 2020.”

It’s an interesting hypothesis, but does not carry the weight of numerous studies showing job creation and economic growth that stem from AB 32. Zycher does not include clean-energy jobs created from AB32 in his assumptions.  He stands alone against 118 economists with expertise in California climate and energy issues who warn that delaying the implementation of AB32 will be more costly than acting now.  In an open letter to Californians, the economists wrote that AB32 will “create new business opportunities and more jobs, and provide incentives for innovation.”  Proposition 23 risks wiping out hundreds of thousands existing clean-energy jobs in the state and jeopardizing millions more that will be created from new markets for energy efficiency and clean energy technologies spurred by AB32.

What’s more, Zycher does not address the economic benefits of the clean-energy law, including the $7.5 billion the California Air Resources Board estimates consumers will save on energy prices. In the event of an energy price shock, AB32 will save consumers an additional $4.5 to 9.6 billion.  Proposition 23 will actually make electricity 33 percent more expensive in California by the end of this decade, according to a study by University of California economist.  That means without implementing AB32, consumers will pay up to $100 more in 2020, costing the state $80 billion in gross domestic product and destroying half a million jobs.

In addition, Zycher assumes that the unemployment rate would not reach 5.5% or less for four consecutive quarters, which is the condition that the ballot initiative states is necessary for suspension.  This is actually a safe assumption as it has only happened three times since 1970.  But as CAP has written, the oil companies behind proposition 23 have deceptively framed their efforts as a “jobs initiative” that would merely “suspend” the state’s global warming law.  In reality, the architects behind the proposition are aiming to repeal the law indefinitely to protect their own profits at the risk of California’s economy, national security, and public health.

Out-of-state oil companies are funding the campaign to repeal AB32.  Nearly all of the donations to the Yes on 23 (97%) come from oil companies and 80% comes from Koch, Tesoro and Valero alone.  Koch is also funding the Pacific Research Institute to produce shoddy studies in support of their dirty energy proposition.  The Pacific Research Institute funded the film An Inconvenient Truth”¦or Convenient Fiction attacking the science of global warming in response to the Nobel Peace Price winner, former Vice President Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth.  PRI also receives funding from Exxon.

The studies author, Zycher has a history of doing Koch’s dirty work.  Previously, PRI’s Zycher was an adjunct scholar at the Koch-funded Cato Institute and a senior fellow at Manhattan Institute, which is also funded by Koch and Exxon.

Here are five things you can do to fight back against the Zycher’s overgeneralized statistical clap-trap:

  1. Visit the “No on 23″³ website, learn the facts & sign up:
  2. Educate yourself on how California’s climate & energy laws have created companies & jobs:
  3. Tell your friends by email, on Facebook, at work, & everywhere else.
  4. Participate in the debate. Write letters to the editor and post comments on blogs & websites.
  5. 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.

And, if you’re a Golden Stater, vote No on Proposition 23.

Rebecca Lefton.


9 Responses to Koch-funded Prop 23 study draws oily conclusions

  1. catman306 says:


    WASHINGTON (AP) — Solar power is coming to President Barack Obama’s house.

    The most famous residence in America, which has already boosted its green credentials by planting a garden, plans to install solar panels atop the White House’s living quarters. The solar panels are to be installed by spring 2011, and will heat water for the first family and supply some electricity.

  2. Some European says:

    I’m translating a Belgian tv-documentary that slams Koch, Exxon, Ebell, Singer et al.
    Here’s a part about Koch:
    Stay tuned for parts 8 and 9!

  3. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Those who concoct propaganda to suit their owners’ ideological and pathopsychological obsessions to dominate society and their pecuniary interest in indulging their insatiable avarice,are an interesting breed. Those who worked in the tobacco harm denial industry, have, in my opinion, contributed hugely to the burden of human suffering. Yet they remain remorseless, and enjoy impunity to punishment for their complicity in this tragedy and outrage. Indeed many of them have graduated to other branches of the Rightwing denialist industry, where they seek to thwart action on climate change, ocean acidification, deforestation, species loss etc, all solely in order to further their masters’ pecuniary interests.
    One thing I find totally inexplicable is the refusal to countenance bringing these people to book over their actions. After all, any other group of individuals whose activities will lead, inevitably, to mass suffering and vast numbers of premature deaths, would be held to account for crimes against humanity, or ought to be. And ‘Holocaust deniers’ who deny the reality of the crimes of the Nazis, are prosecuted in numerous jurisdictions. Yet those who deny a coming Holocaust, whose victims will vastly outnumber those of the Nazis, and whose actions are materially hindering human action to avert this uber-Holocaust, they we are apparently supposed to allow to get away with it, scot-free. That is, in my opinion,moral cowardice and ethical imbecility.

  4. Bob Doublin says:

    What a great idea for a novel (I would never suggest something illegal). The plot revolves around the modern-day revival of the legendary medieval German secret society the Vehmgericht who go around in the dead of night and mete out justice to those traitors to humanity and the Earth. The FBI agent sent to infiltrate them becomes totally convinced of the justice and necessity of their actions and ends up helping them.A very thinly disguised list of victims with transparently disguised names could probably fill two pages at least.This potboiler could be a huge bestseller and oh so satisfying to write.

  5. Bob Doublin says:

    Headlines in this morning’s edition of The Seattle Times read: “State Declares TESORO blast was Preventable”.(emphasis added) I hope the No on 23 can use this as an indication of the QUALITY of the companies involved in financing this horrible farce.

  6. Earl Richards says:

    The California Jobs Initiative (CJI) is an oil corporation farce and fraud. There is no connection, whatsoever, between greenhouse gas emission reduction and the loss of jobs. This notion is an insult to the intelligence of the people of California. In fact, there is job growth in the clean, renewable energy industry. Chevron employs 65,000 worldwide and CJI is not going to change this. The only jobs created by the oil industry are clean-up jobs after oil spills and deep water, blow-outs and pump-handler jobs. CJI will make fantastic profits for the oil industry, increase air pollution, especially in communities around their refineries and there will not be lower gas prices. Koch Industries, Valero and Tesoro are super Enrons. Since when did the oil companies start to show any concern for the unemployed and their families and for small businesses?

  7. progressive says:

    Among other strategies, AB 32 proposes to decrease the consumption of fossil fuels by increasing the cost through a cap and trade mechanism. This strategy is based on the premise that increasing the cost of carbon intensive energy sources will reduce the consumption of same. It does seem reasonable that increasing the cost of energy will encourage energy-intensive industries to relocate to other states where energy is less costly. Now while AB 32 may encourage green jobs associated with producing solar power and wind power, it is nevertheless true that raising the cost of power will encourage jobs in energy-intensive industry to relocate.

  8. homunq says:

    There’s an interesting diary on Daily Kos entitled “Solved: The Curious Case of Cal Oil Cos Who Sat Out Prop 23.. Basically, the contention is that they’re trying to accomplish the same thing through the back door by supporting No on 25/Yes on 26. By declaring business fees as “taxes” and thus subject to a 2/3 requirement, prop 26 would undermine the funding source of environmental oversight agencies: “The fees at issue are primarily those that regulate, mitigate and otherwise respond to environmental, health, and other social impacts of products and services.” Prop 25 would remove that deadlocked 2/3 requirement – the reason for the CA budget crisis – so they’re opposing that too.

    If California has no money, it cannot effectively enforce its laws. The connection between eye-glazing rules about a 2/3 requirement, and continued profits from polluting the state and the world, might seem tenuous – until you see the millions of dollars that those polluters are devoting to trick us into rewriting those rules.

    Vote no on 23, yes on 25, and no on 26.

  9. homunq says:

    I’m sympathetic to the desire to bring the criminal masterminds behind the denialist conspiracy to justice, and even to the infuriation with established institutions which show not the slightest desire to do so. But I think we should all draw the line before it comes to discussion of a two-page “victim” list, however fictional (or “satisfying”). If somehow magically I were on a jury for, say, L’ord(ure) Monckton, I wouldn’t even send him to jail, even though his small share of the coming deaths should easily put him past any serial killer. Henchmen like him or Republican senate denialists/obstructionists should be publicly shamed, but not touched.

    For the Koch brothers, however, I’d recommend the maximum penalty available under the law. I don’t support the death penalty, but I’d be happy if they never saw the light of day again. And yes, I’d buy a work of fiction in which vigilantes somehow brought this about.

    How about we make them into the next Bond villains? Bond is fighting a criminal organization called “Society for Killing the Environment and Polluting The Increase of Knowledge”, headed by two billionaire brothers…