Winning the clean energy and climate trifecta

Boxer and Brown sweep to victory by 10 points, while Prop 23 fails by a staggering 61% to 39% in a “decisive and historic victory for the state’s clean energy economy, clean air and climate policy”

California is the only place in the country where climate and clean energy activists aggressively pushed their message across the board in the face of strong, well-funded opposition by Big Oil.  The Golden State hints at what might have happened had President Obama embraced action on climate and clean energy — and backed it up with aggressive and consistent messaging as Boxer, Brown, and the No-On-Prop-23 coalition did.

Proposition 23 — “the first and largest public referendum in history on clean energy policy” — brought together an amazing bipartisan coalition to beat back Texas oil companies’ effort to kill California’s landmark climate bill, AB32.  It was crushed by more than 20 points — 61% to 39%!

Carly Fiorina tried to beat climate hawk Barbara Boxer in the Senate race by flip-flopping on climate action and clean energy (see Politico on CA Senate debate: “Fiorina’s major stumble came on the issue of Proposition 23” and “The dumbing down of Carly Fiorina).  But Boxer won by a remarkable 52-42.

Meg Whitman said she would suspend AB32 for a year, but even after she broke records by spending more than $160 million, Jerry Brown beat her handily — by almost a million votes! — with a campaign built around an aggressive clean energy policy.

The L.A. Times explains how No-on-Prop-23 did it, pointing out, “No environmental campaign in U.S. history can boast the level of activism in California this year“:

Prop 23 opponents mustered 3,200 volunteers, made 2.8 million phone calls to voters, sent out 3.4 million pieces of mail, made 379,676 on-campus contacts with college students, and operated a sophisticated computerized outreach program that identified and contacted 481,000 voters, and showered voters with 900,000 get-out-the vote phone calls and text messages in the last three days….

“It is the largest public referendum in history on climate and clean energy policy,” said Fred Krupp, president of the New York-based Environmental Defense Fund. “Almost 10 million Californians got a chance to vote and sent a clear message that they want a clean energy future. And this was in an economic downturn. There has never been anything this big. It is going to send a signal to other parts of the country and beyond.”

Here’s the bottom line message on Prop 23:

This should send a message that opposition to clean energy and pollution reductions can be politically costly — if it is met with unabashed messaging by climate hawks.  Here is a news release posted on on Prop 23:

Proposition 23 Fails in Resounding Victory for California Economy and Clean Energy Future

SAN FRANCISCO – Voters in California soundly defeated Proposition 23 today, delivering a decisive and historic victory for the state’s clean energy economy, clean air and climate policy.

The defeat of the Dirty Energy Proposition signifies the first and largest public referendum in history on clean energy policy. With today’s election, California voters cemented their state’s role as a trailblazer for clean energy policy across the country and worldwide. Today’s results also signal an important triumph for the broad coalition that stood up to out-of-state oil refiners who sought to unravel California’s groundbreaking clean air law to protect their own profits.

“In the midst of a major economic downturn, and with a barrage of fear mongering and scare tactics, voters still said they want a clean energy future,” said Tom Steyer, co-chairman of the No on 23 campaign.

The campaign brought together leaders from the environmental, health, labor, business, clean technology and national security sectors, along with community groups, faith-based organizations and more. The co-chairmen of the Stop Dirty Energy Proposition effort, Steyer and former Reagan-era Secretary of State George Shultz, are leaders within their parties and are emblematic of the unlikely allies that banded together to defeat Proposition 23.

Shultz said this sweeping coalition must continue to work together to urge California’s newly elected officials to carry out voters’ wishes to continue to invest in the clean energy economy. “This is the new face of the clean energy economy. This broad coalition will continue to push for California to be on the cutting edge in building the new energy economy,” Shultz said.

Economists say California’s leadership in curbing pollution already has attracted jobs to the state and will lead to hundreds of thousands more in the clean energy sector, one of the few growing areas of the sputtering economy.

“Voters understand clean energy jobs already exist and offer the best promise for economic growth. They recognize that we can have a clean environment and a healthy economy,” Steyer said.

A line must be drawn here. This far — and no further!

This post has been updated.


81 Responses to Winning the clean energy and climate trifecta

  1. Janhavi says:

    This is a huge triumph for climate hawks. But I am a bit worried about Prop 26, which will make it harder to raise pollution fees- can you comment on that?

  2. Loving the Picard line — I use it all the time in my household.

    Sadly, it’s going to take a handful of progressive and, luckily, influential jurisdictions to lead where the feds have failed. Better that than nothing, I suppose.

  3. John Hollenberg says:

    Unfortunately, it looks like proposition 26, backed by Chevron with $4 million, is winning. Otherwise, the election results for California look pretty good.

  4. Richard Brenne says:

    Yay! Yay Boxer, Brown, No-On-23, Giants, Lakers, Etc! Maybe it’s the rest of the country that deserves to fall into the ocean. . .

  5. Jim Groom says:

    As a California I’m so proud of my states voters. They did not fall for the fear and disinformation that obviously was so successful throughout the nation. Congrats to Boxer and Brown and thank you fellow citizens for not allowing Texas oil to decide our clean economy future.

  6. Jeff Huggins says:

    I must say, amidst my huge frustration tonight with the larger picture, I’m “proud to be a Californian” — a slight consolation, I guess. Yet, let’s be honest: one state cannot a climate save! — and what we are doing here is still a very far cry from what’s necessary. So, it’s only slightly less of a mess here than it is everywhere else. What I can’t understand is how Ohioans ever elected John Boehner in the first place. It’s just impossible for me to imagine.

  7. Dave says:

    Hopefully California is NOT still 20 years ahead of the rest of the country.

  8. David B. Benson says:

    John Hollenberg — What is Prop. 26?

  9. Peter Bellin says:

    Well, I can go to sleep happy about the California results (except for Prop 26, but I am not surprized since there was no effective campaign against it.)

    The national results are a travesty. I think the votors favoring some of the republicans must come from another plant, in their world view.

  10. Peter Bellin says:

    Prop 26 changes the voting rules for fees (for example hazardous waste fees) to require a two-thirds vote to pass. This is a very high barrier to pass, and will likely restrict funding for some environmental activity.

  11. Wes Rolley says:

    Jeff, (#5) maybe Boehner got elected the same way that CA’s Dana Rohrabacher did… with Koch brothers money.

  12. Harrier says:

    Prop 26 hasn’t passed yet- the vote totals on the San Francisco Gate’s website are only at 17% of the vote, so it may yet fail.

  13. Not A Lawyer says:

    It seems Prop 26 was largely overlooked until the last minute. Though the exact impact on something like AB 32 remains to be seen. (To answer #8 David Benson- Prop 26 reclassifies some/many regulatory fees as taxes, meaning they will now need two-thirds approval by the legislature). A couple of professors at UCLA law school put out a report last week saying it may not affect AB 32 because the law, passed in 2006, explicitly authorizes the Air Resources Board to enact fees to pay for the law’s implementation. Prop 26 only covers fees enacted this year or going forward. Of course, that doesn’t mean industry can’t go to court and try to block some of the AB 32 fees, allowance auctions, etc.

  14. David B. Benson says:

    Not A Lawyer — Thank you.

  15. MarkB says:

    Looks like a blowout. California is to the U.S. as the U.S. is to the world. As the out-of-state fossil fuel funding indicated, this will have far-reaching clean energy benefits, given the massive size of the CA economy. There’s going to be an even more stark contrast between CA and the rest of the United States.

  16. Jeff Huggins says:

    Two Things From CA

    First of all, I’d love to learn more about Chevron’s involvement in, and support of, Prop 26. Can someone point me to the best credible sources on that?

    Second, just FYI, one thing that CA seems to NOT be doing well is following and reporting numbers. I can’t get through to the State’s site that contains election results, and the numbers from other sources are jumping all over the place. I just heard someone on NPR (calling in) say that he just saw figures on the Secretary of State’s website — the one I can’t reach — that show Fiorina ahead by a slight amount. So, the California numbers, and reports on them, are flying around all over the place. It has me wondering whether some of the media outlets have called the results too early, based on exit polls or something, without really knowing what they’re doing.



  17. Dana says:

    In an embarrassing night for America, I’m proud to be a resident of California – one of the few remaining bastions of sanity and willingness to take action on the climate in the country. I only hope the rest of the country doesn’t lag too far behind our great state.

  18. Rice Dog says:

    With tonight’s election results, California should be well on its way to “3rd World” status. Considering the fact that democrats have been in charge of legislation in this state for the last 30 years and have bankrupted it with irresponsible spending. Jerry Brown’s introduction of unrealistic retirement benefits for state employees during his first 8 years has left us with no viable way to keep our promises to public servants. Now, with no checks and balances on a budget, California can just keep borrowing and borrowing to pay its crazy obligations. What has happened in Washington DC the last 2 years of democrat rule?

  19. Raleigh Latham says:

    I’m proud to be a Californian right now, it’s a start to a long fight, but I’m glad I canvased people to vote no, our state is a sigh of relief in a sea of crazy.

  20. What is needed now is climate folks to work to unseat both Dan Logue (R-CA Assembly) who “wrote” the proposition and Tom McClintock (R-CA04), for as long as these two are in elective office, they will, with a big assist by Tea Party Folks, try to stop any and all progress on Climate Change.

    We don’t seem to have gotten a dime from the Democratic Party to unseat these folks, so it will be left to grass roots activist to do the job.

    Guess this is a plea for help.

  21. Harrier says:

    Does California vote on propositions every year? It’s possible you could put up a new proposition to reverse Prop 26 on next year’s ballot.

  22. I’ve maintained that the Prop. 23 backers shot themselves in the foot (feet?) by creating a prominent forum for the “clean energy – green jobs economic future” message.

    See for examples of really strong commercials, especially “Deceptive”.

    Presuming the new Republican climate-denier majority in Congress follows through on threats of climate hearings, it can create a national version of the California forum.

    Rather than feeling defensive we need to use these for everything we can to get our message out, as well as to show the inquisitors for what they are.

  23. Kota says:

    I am so very proud of you California!!! Wish I could say the same for my state.

  24. Dan B says:

    Rice Dog @ 16;

    The “Third World” has been gaining on the “First World” for decades.

    Successful countries have tapped the amazing resources of their people by providing a secure safety net so you could take risks.

    America seems to be buying the Brooklyn Bridge / Lottery plan. Educate only the “deserving”, call an unregulated and dangerously out of control market “free”, smash anything that makes our dreamers equal. Make money on what made money, no matter how out of date, fossilized, or backwards – Making money is all that counts. Adam Smith told us, “The Market has no morality”, or did he?

    Not my paradise.

  25. Barbara Fukumoto says:

    I hope that the coalition that opposed prop 23, will immediately unite to overturn prop 26.

  26. Mark says:

    Deval Patrick was re-elected in Massachusetts as well. While he didn’t lead with the environment, he certainly ran on his environmental record, his support for Cape Wind (all the other candidates ran against Cape Wind), his support for RGGI, passing the Green Communities Act, the Global Warming Solutions act, working aggressively to bring clean energy jobs to Massachusetts and his support for energy efficiency and solar power.

  27. A face in the clouds says:

    “Rick Perry for President.” Consider yourselves warned. Perry is a Bush Family company man who will be served up by the same people who knew the country wouldn’t believe its eyes and ears about Dubya. The machine is already in motion scrubbing and rewriting Perry’s history. He’s even got a new book out that will be hailed by The Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle, Austin American-Statesman and Texas Monthly as the Greatest Story Ever Told.

    The Chameleon Cowboy is nearing the horizon. Over his shoulder is a wasteland formerly known as Texas, where people still can’t believe their eyes and ears.

    You have about six months to prepare.

  28. Mark at the Rally says:

    Jeff, (#6)

    Having lived in California and then in Ohio, maybe I can give you a little insight into Ohioans. Ohio was once a state that had a thriving manufacturing base. Middle-class Americans could find decent-paying jobs at a GM or Chrysler factory. These people were understandably anxious as the manufacturing sector slowly and steadily declined. Unfortunately, they bought in to the Republicans’ lies that government, particularly Democrats, had cost them their jobs. (Never mind that GM was losing to Toyota and Honda, which were making more fuel-efficient cars.) Most Ohioans fell for it, hook, line, and sinker.

    Things were so bad that in the early 2000’s, a Republican governor could not sell his own ballot initiative to develop infrastructure for Ohio to attract high-tech jobs. Extreme conservatives (perhaps the forerunners to the Tea Party) painted it as a new tax (it wasn’t) and brought it to narrow defeat. That was the last straw for us, and we moved out of that dismal state.

    I hope that explains a bit how Ohioans could continually elect Boehner.

  29. Cinnamon Girl says:

    “What has happened in Washington DC the last 2 years of democrat rule?” We’ve slowly been repairing the catastrophic damage that the Grand Old Petrol party drove the country into the previous 8 years. You apparently have no idea how bad those conditions were, but even Bush realized it at the end when he began down the fiscal path you apparently criticize now.

  30. Peter M says:

    Climate Hawk Richard BlumenthaL easily defeated Global warming denier Linda McMahon here in Connecticut by over 100,000 votes.

    All 5 democrats who are climate hawks where reelected-

    The Governors race has still not been called- with ‘Green’ Dam Malloy trailing climate change dunce Tom Foley by a few thousand votes – with several Democratic towns and cities not in.

  31. Anne says:

    That’s it, I’m definitely moving to Cali. The east coast has just become too dysfunctional and strange!

  32. Prokaryotes says:

    Climate law survives Prop 23 challenge at California polls
    Voters overwhelmingly reject a measure that have put renewable energy plans and a market to cut emissions on hold


  33. Prokaryotes says:

    One of the world’s most ambitious laws to combat global warming survived a challenge on Tuesday as California voters overwhelmingly rejected a measure that would have put the state’s plans for more renewable energy and a market to curb greenhouse gases on ice.

    The defeat of Proposition 23 marked a big victory for Silicon Valley investors, who poured millions of dollars into defending California’s AB 32 law and protecting their massive investments in green technologies ranging from solar power to electric cars.

  34. catman306 says:

    A Status Quo victory you can believe in. This can only reveal the enormous power of money and the power of political propaganda.

    What can we do now to reduce, and then stop, this Global Greenhouse Climate Disruption?

  35. Bob Doublin says:

    Eaarth will make her opinion about the 2010 elections known over the next few years…and decades…and centuries.

    It occurred to me a few months ago: You’ve heard the contemporary cliche “You do the math!”? Well the math HAS BEEN DONE and humanity is not going to like the equation that’s been solved nor the solution arrived at.

  36. cr says:

    Jeff and Mark on Boehner.

    Don’t forget that Boehner core support comes from the rural part of his district, and the rural part of Ohio is still thinks that big government is bad. They really don’t seem to understand how Boehner and the republicans hurt them. And I’m not sure they want to.

    But for the rest of the state to only give Strickland 4 years when they gave Taft 8? I don’t know. I don’t remember Ohio being this stupid when I moved here in 1980.

  37. a face in the clouds (#27) — You are so right, I fear, re: Rick Perry. And when 2020 rolls around, the Republicans will be ready with Marco Rubio, who my, umm, ill-informed — let’s be polite and civil this morning, though that is a real challenge — neighbors here in Florida just elected US Senator. He’ll still only be 49, and probably have all his hair, and of course be seriously fluent in Spanish, if not immigration policy. Even better, he will then have a decade of experience explaining in his winning style just why it is/was necessary to allow Big Oil to drill along every inch of Florida’s coastlines. I have no doubt Marco Darko will by then be the darling of not just the energy companies, but all rich Americans and the corporations they control.

    Greenhouse Gaseous, “because for some of us there can never be too much hot air”

  38. Andy says:

    Well, I hope I’m not asking readers to look too far ahead, but I see the elections of the last 20 years as a continuing trend. Look at how “republican” Obama had to be to get elected.

    The democratic party for decades could count on labor unions as a base of strength while northern manufacturing ran strong in the 1960’s and 1970’s. The republicans now depend upon the resource extraction industry and non-labor manufacturing. Especially their power base of Texas. That too will come to an end in 20 or so years.

    By then climate change will be obvious and species extinction will be rampant.

    Then what?

    Americans need a simple story to drive their politics. We are not politically savy.

    What’s the new story going to be?

    I think it would be smart to begin telling that story now.

    That in the past America allowed the extraction industry and republicans to destroy our environment. They took away the weather, they took away the forests, they took away the farms, they took away the plants and animals that used to exist with us on what’s left of the earth. They made it impossible for the average American to live a decent life. They rode a wave of luxury based on the liquidation of the earth and the creation of a permanent underclass.

  39. Scrooge says:

    Marco Rubio put on rose colored glasses and said he could make it better for our children and grandchildren. He had to ignore what GW and sea level rise will do. How many deaths of our grandchildren will his simplistic teabag approach cause. The next hurricane to hit florida could bankrupt the state. Much less though than the damage of future sea level rise.

  40. Chris Winter says:

    Jeff Huggins wrote (#16): “First of all, I’d love to learn more about Chevron’s involvement in, and support of, Prop 26. Can someone point me to the best credible sources on that?”

    I saw a good article in one of the East Bay newspapers. I’ll see if I can find the URL again.

  41. Jeff Huggins says:


    Thanks to everyone who commented on Boehner and Ohio. Very helpful.

    And thanks, Chris (Comment 40), for seeing if you can find the article on Chevron and Prop 26.

    It’s a new day.

    (Try To) Be Well,


  42. Sailesh Rao says:

    The grassroots coalition that defeated Prop. 23 defined it as a battle between the health and well being of Californians vs. the profits of Big Texas Oil interests. They ran ads about pollution from oil refineries causing asthma in kids and ads that showed clean energy job growth was 10X faster than any other sector despite the anemic job situation in the state. The theme was clearly people vs. the polluters and the people won resoundingly. As Dan Miller points out in his talk, people respond strongest to threats that are:
    1) Visible
    2) With historical precedent
    3) Immediate
    4) With simple causality
    5) Caused by another “tribe”
    6) Have direct personal impacts
    and the No on Prop. 23 campaign framed the issue to trigger every one of these threat responses.

    I’m sure that there is a lesson in this for a future national and international campaign.

  43. Chris Winter says:

    Some links on Propositions 25/26 and Chevron

    Chevron, CA Oil Companies Support Prop 26
    Submitted by jbrown on Mon, 11/01/2010 – 16:34

    Prop. 26: A new strategy for big oil companies?
    November 1, 2010 | 8:51 am

    Scott Shafer Demystifies Important Proposition 26
    October 29, 2010, 12:41 pm • Posted by Jon Brooks

    Solved: the Curious Case of the California Oil Companies who Sat Out Prop 23.
    by: RLMiller
    Wed Oct 06, 2010 at 11:38:16 AM PDT

    The curious case of why Chevron is sitting out Prop 23
    by: RLMiller, Oct 06, 2010

    And here’s a site spoofing Chevron.

  44. Peter M says:

    The future of America is still in California and the Northeast- there seems to be some element of truth to ‘Flyover Country’- I may also add to that future the Great state of Colorado.

    the rest of the nation still does not ‘get it’ and when they do- it will be far too late.

  45. Scrooge says:

    Craig @ 44 be careful what you wish for. California is one of those blue states that typically support the red states with their federal money.

  46. Dana says:

    The vote margin on Prop 23 was the largest of any Proposition on the California ballot this election. It was defeated by a landslide, 61.3% to 38.7%.

    Unfortunately Prop 26 passed by about 5%. But Brown beat Whitman by 12%, and Boxer Beat Fiorina by 10%. A good night for Dems and the climate in California.

    It also looks like Bennett will defeat Buck in Colorado by a slim margin, and of course the Angle loss in Nevada is big. The more Tea Partiers we can keep out of the Senate, the better.

  47. Jeff Huggins says:

    “Pay attention, goddammit politicians, pay attention!”

    – George Shultz, regarding California’s defeat of Prop 23 and (thus) strong signal in support of the need to address climate change and pursue clean energy (as heard this morning on NPR)

  48. Anonymous says:

    The antidote to Cal. Prop 26 is a series of ballot measures with fees on oil companies and other fossil fuel corps. with dedicated revenue streams to green energy and education which could get a 2/3 vote. And I’m starting my personal boycott of Chevron today.

  49. Rob Honeycutt says:

    I don’t know how many CP readers also read Nate Silver’s, but, quite frankly, he is amazing.

    This race had a lot of uncertainties but he came very close on his overall predictions. The reps did a little better than his forecast in the house but did a little worse in the senate (thanks to Harry Reid). But overall his projections have been very accurate, and his analysis top notch.

    Late last night he took Rasmussen to task for performing very poorly amongst the polling firms, showing about a 3-4 bias toward republicans and also for having the worst one race prediction in his model (off by 42 points in the Inouye race in HI). What’s most interesting about this is that Silver has been writing about Rasmussen’s bias for a long time, and last night he was proven right.

  50. john atcheson says:

    #44 Craig:

    With the passage of prop 25, it will be easier to get action on a viable budget, so we might not need to come to your state seeking a bailout.

    But you miss the larger issue and the bigger problem. Government has been so vilified by the right wing, that it is virtually impossible to get support for the things we need government to do.

    Until we set the record straight on what the role of government is, all states, cities and the federal government will be underfunded and impotent.

    Some things only government can or will do, and these must be done.

    Some things only government can do well (health care, defense, environmental protection, Social Security etc.) and we ought to let government do them — in fact we save money by paying more taxes — we can either give United Health et. al. a 30% premium on every health dollar we spend, or we can give the feds a 4% premium.

    Bottom line: the national discourse is distorted by the myth that “big gubmnt cain’t do nothin”.

    Oh, and by the way, Californians pay more on average in federal taxes than all but two states — a lot of that gets bounced back to the so-called red states in the form of subsidies, as scrooge points out. So don’t be so sanguine about “your state.”

  51. Jim Groom says:

    Forget looking to Washington DC for any help on environmental issues. Look to California for direction. The federal government will be occupied doing mostly nothing for the next couple of years. Investigation of scientists, lowering taxes to the corporate masters and trying to defeat Obama in 2012. Any progress on the climate front will have to been made at the state level. If we are lucky by 2010 the results of California’s leadership will boost employment in ‘green’ areas and other states will soon follow. As goes California, so goes the nation. Not too surprising considering one in eight Americans lives out here. Yes indeed we have problems with our budget, but name a major state comparable to California that does not. We must move to the future, forget the ways of the pasts, and work for change. Dumping Prop 23 was a good start, but the fight will continue.

  52. Scrooge says:

    One thing I take from this is that GW may have to be fought from the bottom up. People will consider GW someone elses problem until they see how it impacts them. Until people cannot afford food because of crop failure, or loss of possessions because of natural disasters, or loss of life due to heat stroke. It gonna be a tough fight.

  53. MarkF says:

    “Bottom line: the national discourse is distorted by the myth that “big gubmnt cain’t do nothin”.”

    This piece of nonsense, which flies in the face of very public facts that are only a few months old, is deeply ingrained in a lot of Americans. I don’t know how or when the brainwashing starts but it is very effective.

    Yes, hand it all over to anything that is a big transnational corporation. They have a proven track record don’t they?

    A proven record of failure, despite apparently endless financial help from that gubment

  54. Peter M says:

    Democrat Dan Malloy has been called the ‘unofficial winner’ of the Connecticut’s Gubernatorial race by 3103 votes– YEAH!

  55. Jeff Huggins says:

    The Gold Rush!!

    I agree with those folks who see California as a vital and central point of action — a wedge that can set an example — when it comes to clean energy and climate. Indeed, the whole West Coast: California, Oregon, and Washington, and Nevada will also join in when it comes to the great benefits that will come from solar energy.

    In California, the Democrats have swept the key offices, and all of them are energetic proponents of addressing climate change and moving into the clean energy future. The economy here will benefit greatly. And people are wise here, now, about defeating the oil companies. Also, among the utilities, PG&E has already been among the more progressive of them.

    A great deal of money out here supports clean energy and associated technologies as well: the high tech and venture capital communities, for example. And, most of the entertainment industry (at least the artists, if not the entertainment companies themselves) champions the environment, clean energy, and sustainability.

    BUT, we (in California and nationwide) can’t and shouldn’t be satisfied to set our sights at addressing these issues in California. Instead, our aims should be set much, much, much higher: to make California and “public insistence” so effective that other states and the national scene will feel compelled to join in at the time of the next election. So, there is MUCH MUCH work to do, here in California and nationwide. There is much that can — and NEEDS TO — happen out here, but it needs to go much farther than most people are thinking, I think. If California just muddles through, squeaks by, and only makes moderate progress on climate and energy issues, the national scene will not change much the next time around (two years from now). Instead, California has to make it “in-your-face obvious” that squarely addressing climate change and moving into the clean energy future is do-able, highly attractive, meaningful, wise, and all-around rewarding. That will require some creative thinking and courage, and continuing activism (MORE than ever before … MUCH MORE).

    We need to embark on a Climate and Clean Energy “Gold Rush”, so to speak. (To be clear, I DON’T mean that the only or even main benefit must be in economic profiteering terms. The climate is still Aim One. I’m just using the term “Gold Rush” to represent the excitement and the need for action.)



  56. J A Turner says:

    The expected new House majority leader, Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, spoke last night in terms of rolling back federal spending to 2008 levels–which I take as double-speak for gutting all funding for climate and energy initiatives. It’s vital that California makes palpable headway on climate and environmental issues in general, so that the value of this work will speak for itself and undercut the dogma of the pro-polluter crowd in Washington D.C.

  57. BillD says:

    Great to see California come through for science and the enviroment. CA typically leads national trends and I think that it is likely that the tea baggers have seen their peak yesterday.

    The idea that Rick Perry could run for president is scary. I have followed his influence on the Texas Board of Education, in which he has nominated extreme science deniers (especially Creationists) and political conservatives who want to change history (to remove Thomas Jefferson from history books, for example). I just have to believe and hope that such polical moves on the part of Perry will undermine a chance of a polical run at the national level.

  58. Colorado Bob says:

    Australia military head warns of Pacific climate instability

    by Staff Writers
    Sydney (AFP) Nov 3, 2010
    Australia’s military chief has warned that his troops are likely to be sent to the Pacific more often and on bigger missions as small island states become increasingly unstable due to climate change.

  59. cyclonebuster says:

    “Underwater Suspension Tunnels” work great for our East coast from Key West to the Carolinas! Lots of kinetic energy in that Gulfstream!

  60. Chris says:

    For the few who might be swayed by Rice Dog’s ridiculous claim that Democrats have brankrupted California, check out which describes in some detail how Republicans have used their “minority power” to screw with our state. Basically, we are the only state that needed 2/3 of he legislature to approve any budget, so the minority Republicans were able to block any budget they didn’t like and coax “compromises” that reduce government spending and shift less-expensive government programs towards more-expensive private programs. Thankfully, prop 25 finally passed to change that.

    This is exactly the same tactic RepubliCorp members of the Senate have been using by threatening fillibuster more often than it’s ever been threatened before. The only antidote to that might be to actually force them to fillibuster and see how long they last. At least it would get some media attention and could be used against them in the next election.

    The article continues on to describe how Republican Pete Wilson deregulated the energy market that led to the false energy crisis and the Enron scandal that helped create a huge defecit. All of this was inaccurately blamed on Democrat Gray Davis who was recalled thanks to Big Money spent by Republican Darrell Issa. This was followed by Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger who helped energy companies avoid paying $9 billion in damages created by the false energy crisis. Arnold and the minority Republicans went on to push the idea of privatizing the U.C. system, stacking its board with members who have contributed to the huge increases in tuition we’re now seeing.

  61. Not A Lawyer says:

    Someone asked if another Prop 23 type measure was possible next year. Absolutely. It’s all about gathering signatures in time to get it on the ballot. I think the deadline is late spring? Maybe even early summer. The refiners have sort of suggested as much already. From the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association president’s statement this morning:

    “I would not be surprised to see Californians vote again on this issue in the future, after the full magnitude of the suffering created by AB32 becomes a reality”

  62. David Smith says:

    What is the energy company with the best track record of supporting limits on GHG? I will purchase my fuel from that company and avoid all others. Which company… comments please.

  63. Wes Rolley says:

    CA and Chevron makes an interesting story. Green Party Mayor, Gayle McLaughlin of Richmond, CA specifically steered a course that (1) assessed a local impact tax on the largest companies in the area (Chevron has a refinery in Richmond) and (2) worked to bring Green Energy Jobs to the city. She won re-election last night.

  64. Prokaryotes says:

    A Spill From Chevron’s New Well Could Be Worse Than Gulf

    Officials from Chevron have admitted that in a worst-case scenario, its new deepwater drilling campaign in the North Sea could cause an oil spill bigger than BP’s accident in the Gulf of Mexico.

  65. Dana says:

    David Smith #62 – I personally think Shell is the best (least bad) oil company. I believe they were the only one to come out with an official stance against Prop 23. Shell is of course far from perfect, but seems to be better than other oil companies when it comes to climate and environment.

  66. Sailesh Rao says:

    Dana #66, Shell is the main company behind the environmental catastrophe among the Ogoni people of Kenya. Please see, e.g., .

    Fossil fuels are a dirty business, creating bad Karma all around and the sooner we get off it, the better. But, I sympathize with the motivation to patronize the least bad company in the meantime.

  67. David Smith says:

    Joe, Do you have any thoughts on the least of the evils (oil companys). To reward good behavior is worthy of consideration.

    [JR: Not sure what you are asking?]

  68. David Smith says:

    Joe; Sorry, I had this Idea to pick the oil company that had the best environmental track record relative to GHG issues and purchase all my petrolium products from that company. Reward good behavior. I do not feel qualified to make such a judgement and was asking for your opinion.

  69. Jeff Huggins says:

    To David Smith,

    It can’t be ExxonMobil — that much is for sure! — and it probably isn’t BP. I’m not sure about the comparison between Chevron and Shell. But, for a number of reasons, given the task, it might well be best to pick a reasonably “independent” station — not any of these brands. Of course, any such station will be getting its gasoline from one of the majors, most likely, but there’s no way getting around that, and (of course) the eventual aim should be to get an electric car, or hybrid, or at least a super-efficient non-gas-guzzler, as soon as practical. In the meantime, the main goal is one of “sending a message”, so that can (partly) be done by avoiding the majors altogether, at least to a degree.

    As it happens, although I haven’t mentioned this as of yet, I’ve just started an independent chain of gasoline stations called “Hug Me Hydrocarbons”. You are welcome to become a customer. I will promise to spend one third of one penny, out of each several dollars you give us, on R&D, most of which will go to conventional oil and gas R&D, of course, but a small portion of which I’ll give to my cousin who is working at State U to figure out how to use fish to make cars go. And of course, my new gasoline company is a very human and humane one, and we love humankind, and people too, and we believe in human power and the power of creativity and the power of advertising (oops, that was an honest slip). In any case, if you don’t buy from Exxon or Shell or etc, consider Hug Me Hydrocarbons, please.



  70. Sasparilla says:

    Regarding David Smith (#69) and Jeff Huggins (#70), its definitely not BP – they are known in the industry for taking shortcuts to do things on the cheap. For a truly damning analysis looking back over the last decade, Frontline (PBS in depth news show) just had an episode on them, its really unbelievable when you watch it:

    It would be interesting to have some guidance on this actually. For the big chains you’re down to Chevron and Shell as Jeff Huggins said, but I have no clue which would be better.

  71. Jim Groom says:

    It is good to see so many positive statements about California for a change. In this community it is not surprising that so many see the positive result of the defeat of Prop 23. It makes many wonder what is wrong with so much of the rest of the country? I don’t want to sound like an elitist, but I’m very proud of my home state today.

    As to what might be wrong with the rest of the country, I’m reminded of what my best uber-conservative friend said to me back in 2004. ‘From the the slope of the Sierra in eastern California to the western bank of the Hudson River is ‘goober-country.’ He further explained that goober country was the strength of his brand and the base of the GOP. At the time we had a good laugh, but after last night I think I owe him a brew or two.

  72. Jeff Huggins says:

    Regarding Sasparilla’s Comment (Comment 71), if for some reason the present question is limited to the majors (in other words, aside from my suggestion of buying from independents, if one must, as mentioned in my earlier comment), and if that choice comes down to Chevron or Shell, then two factors that people might see as relevant are these: First, unless things have changed a lot in recent months, Royal Dutch Shell is much larger than Chevron. So, if you want to avoid the big guy and support the “small” guy (if you can use that term at all), then Chevron is smaller, relatively speaking. Or, if you’d rather buy from a U.S.-headquartered company, then Chevron would be the one. I haven’t done direct comparisons of Chevron and Shell as it relates to their PR efforts, their degrees of hypocrisy, the nature of their R&D spending, or so forth. Chevron is at least making some investments in solar energy — not enough, but some — for example, they invest in BrightSource. But Shell may well be doing so also. In any case, I still think the idea of buying from independents is a good one, for now. (In the interest of transparency, I worked for Chevron long ago, so that could possibly be influencing my view, although the facts as I’ve stated here are relatively straightforward, I think.)



  73. Joe 90 says:

    To David Smith

    If you are asking people here to tell you what to think, you’ll find no shortage of offers.

    Do you ask some bunch of bozos to tell you what to eat for breakfast, who to date, what toilet paper to use ?

    Why not do it the hard way – do some research, a little thinking and draw your own conclusions ?

  74. dp says:


    i think we’re all hoping to find california a way to big-fast greening that avoids both the bailout boyz & congressional cretins. check out for a pretty nifty economically-sound idea.

    David Smith @ 62:

    “What is the energy company with the best track record of supporting limits on GHG? I will purchase my fuel from that company and avoid all others. Which company… comments please.”

    oil companies are just not where they need to be on this, for obvious profitmax corporate charter reasons.

    conservation & efficiency are your clearest consumer megaphone.

  75. David Smith says:

    I ride a 1980 Motobecane 10-speed about 50 – 60 miles per week for recreation and utility but I still have an auto for family use, about a tank a week. I regret the second part but don’t have a replacement for now.

    If I must spend the money, and there are others in my predicament, It might be spent to some secondary purpose. That purpose being to reinforce good behavior among the big oil producers. I was not suggesting that others think for me, but share their knowledge and experience.

    Maybe the rest of you have already sworn off gasoline and grid electricity for your energy needs.

  76. dp says:

    DavidS@76: i wasn’t kidding or preaching. the straight truth is unless there’s a concerted focus on one company the signal you want to send thru your purchase is lost in the incredible volume of the US gasoline market. if you want to talk to them, do it directly or through a proxy that engages in clearer forms of communication like policy, project development, shamings, shareholder activism, lawsuits. those are more reliable channels of communication.

  77. David Smith says:

    dp @ 77 – Respectfully, There has been a lot of activity over the last 30 years. We find ourselves in a low point of effectiveness this week. When compared with the increasing awareness of the extent of the threat, awareness by the few, that we face, I would say past techniques for communication have not worked so well. Continued reliance on these techniques without significant change is a form of self delusion.

    The message of highlighting one company for bad deeds and quietly purchasing dirty energy from 30 other companies that are virtually undistinguishable from the first cannot be structurally effective. This is a weak and compromised gesture.

    There are, according to a recent poll, 102,000,000 American registered voters out there who indicated that CO2 emissions pose a risk and should be limited. Figure out how to access them and we win. Hell, activating a percentage of these people is a huge positive step in the right direction.

    1,000,000 people buying gasoline from Jeff Huggins “Hug Me Hydrocarbons” because they are the best at addressing specific environmental concerns, letting everyone know why they are doing it, demonstrates a force in the marketplace.

    Our collective hubris is our inability &/or unwillingness to follow Low Impact Man. Doing less bad is not going to solve this problem; only ending the market for dirty energy will actually get the job done.

  78. dp says:

    DavidS – ok. set your criteria, make your list, many people will participate. it’s good. it complements reducing consumption, cutting subsidies & setting tighter public standards.

  79. A Certain Mouse says:

    Hey, Jeff (@55 & everywhere else), maybe it’s time for you to come back to Disney. Have some fun.

  80. Jeff Huggins says:

    To A Certain Mouse (Comment 80),

    Thanks for the comment. In some ways, it’s not a bad idea. Disney could do some Huge Great Good Stuff — and in fun and meaningful ways — regarding all this stuff and, indeed, help to “save the world”. Disney could make Walt proud and happy again (figuratively speaking). If you know me from earlier days — or even if you don’t — and if you have any suggestions or want to say “hi”, please send me an e-mail, at jeff AT thewindingriver DOT org. Fun is certainly a good prescription these days.